'McManus the best Monaghan player I've played with' - Clerkin
Dick Clerkin rates Conor McManus the best Monaghan footballer he has seen in his time after the forward's late intervention secured a path to an Ulster semi-final on Sunday.
McManus was well-policed by a Cavan defence that routinely devoted two players to track him but the Clontibret man still came up with two of the best points in the game, leading Clerkin to pay the ultimate compliment.
"This is when you see the difference between a good forward, a good player and a great player," said Clerkin. "He knew he was going to be tightly marked, he knew going out it was not a day that he would be kicking seven or eight points from play but he kicked them when he needed to.
"That last point was a massive point for everyone, team-mates feed off that when you know that you have that in your armoury. In my opinion, he is probably the best Monaghan player I have played with," he added.
Clerkin feels Monaghan had sufficient 'big-game' players to pull through such a tricky test.
"Every big team has big players, that is why they are big teams. They have men who can come in and do what is required," he pointed out.
"There is no point kicking points in the first few minutes, kicking points in league football. You have to be able to do it in the heat of championship when the game is in the melting pot. We have proved that we have the men that can do that."
Clerkin admitted he had a sense of deja vu from 2008 when Monaghan went to Enniskillen as overwhelming favourites to reach an Ulster final on the perceived 'soft' side of the draw and were beaten.
"It is dangerous territory to be in," he admitted. "I just remember back to 2008 when we were in a similar position coming off a very successful 2007 season and we were odds-on favourites playing Fermanagh.
"Everyone was talking about an Ulster title and we just did not perform on the day. It was like that in the first half, we were not at the intensity that we needed to be."