Wednesday 20 March 2019

'We were cock-sure that we'd win in Galway'

Darren Hughes
Darren Hughes

Darren Hughes has a unique memory of the genius sucker punch that was David Clifford's goal in Clones a couple of weeks back.

"Rory Beggan hitting me a slap on the back of the head and telling me to get up the field, the game is not over yet," he recalls.

"I suppose the initial reaction at the final whistle was frustration.

"We didn't know what the score was in the Galway game, we didn't know where we stood, we didn't know if it was in our hands."

However he managed it, Malachy O'Rourke then changed the overriding emotion in the Monaghan dressing-room from disappointment to optimism.

"We went in," Hughes recalls, "got ourselves settled and Malachy came in with a big smile on his face 'that's great boys, three points on the board after two games, we'd have took that a couple of months ago.

"We'll go to Galway and win."

O'Rourke would prove prophecy to be among his gifts.

"That was it, tunnel vision from there on in," says Hughes.

"We knew Galway might be a bit soft, they'd a game the next week either way, they'd be looking after themselves.

"We knew it was win or bust for us, we had to go full tilt."

Monaghan systematically took Galway apart last Saturday, confining Kevin Walsh's team to just eight points, a reflection of their confidence.

"We were cock-sure going to Galway we were going to win," Hughes admits. "We were 100 per cent sure, we had the work done.

"I suppose we had the hurt from the Kerry game and knew we needed to put in a performance.

"If you look back at our performances over the last two or three years, we generally put it in, we might lose a game by a couple of points but never too often are we beat out the gate."

That left them on top of the group and into tomorrow's All-Ireland semi-final with Tyrone, thus avoiding Dublin - their conquerors by 10 points in last year's quarter-final.

"It's not a case of avoiding the Dubs," Hughes asserted.

"People were saying you want to avoid them, if you're going to win it you'll have to play them.

"Just we found last year we played Down on the Saturday and the Dubs the following Saturday and just physically you are not ready, the legs coming into it."

"It's an Ulster final basically to get to an All-Ireland final now."

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