Monaghan neighbours driving each other forward
SUCCESS can have its downsides and up around Emyvale and Truagh, the ducks have been feeling the brunt of it.
As the neighbouring Monaghan clubs prepare for their respective All-Ireland junior and intermediate semi-finals this weekend, the artificial ducks that lie close to the border between the two clubs have been getting a makeover on an almost weekly basis.
Ever since the sides reached the latter stages of the county championship last year, the ducks have been daubed in the red and black of Truagh, only to be replaced by the black and white of Emyvale the following weekend.
Last December, the clubs won their respective Ulster titles on the same cold Saturday night in Armagh. The following day, the clubs, players and their remarkable bounty of silverware came together to mark a memorable occasion.
"Certainly the results both clubs have had would drive each other on," says Emyvale's outgoing chairman John Finn, whose father was one of the founding members of the Truagh club.
The clubs came into last season from very different places. Truagh had lost their senior status.
"We were disappointed to go down and then in the first round of the intermediate championship we were beaten by Donaghamoyne, and looking back at it now, it was the best thing to ever happen to us," recalls Truagh secretary Kieran McKenna.
Brian Rafferty's men haven't looked back since. Monaghan and Ulster glory followed and the senior ranks beckon again. But first there is a date with Louth and Leinster champions Geraldines in Crossmaglen this weekend, who are managed by former Monaghan hero Eamon McEneaney.
Having reached the 2012 junior final, Emyvale's outlook on last season was much different and when it came to an Ulster campaign, they knew what to expect, having previously tasted provincial success in 2009.
"When you go into Ulster you play the first round and everyone is in good form after winning a county title, and maybe Ulster is not top of your list," Finn says. "But if you win a game, then your competitiveness kicks in."
With minor and senior success at county level and two provincial Ulster club titles, 2013 was bumper year for Monaghan football.
Both clubs have a pair of players who county manager Malachy O'Rourke will run the rule over when their campaigns come to an end.
"But all that can wait, the carrot of a big day in Croke Park entices both clubs. In that case, it'll be last one out, turn off the lights. It's once-in-a-lifetime stuff to have something like this," Finn says.
Only the ducks will be relieved when it's all over.