Beggan expects another 'intense' derby battle
Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan has hardly had time to draw breath but suddenly the championship is here again.
His 2018 season was still going in the first week of December. Monaghan's run to the All-Ireland semi-final was followed by an adventure with Scotstown that saw them secure four Monaghan titles in a row. Beggan would win an All-Star but sidestep the trip to Philadelphia in favour of a run to the Ulster club final in Omagh before he got some down time.
The wounds from that defeat to Gaoth Dobhair were hardly licked and the phone hopped. Monaghan were calling, it was time to go again.
Still, he wouldn't have it any other way. Even with his work as a coach in the county meaning he's all football all the time, a few weeks off was enough. Days like tomorrow's Ulster SFC derby duel with Cavan in Kingspan Breffni are the motivation.
"For me, it's not too bad. Maybe for other players you need longer but I was happy enough to get back into it. After a loss you want those couple of weeks to clear the head and blow off some steam but once January came it was about getting the show back on the road in terms of lifestyle and routine. Coming back training was no problem," he reflects.
This Monaghan team broke new ground for themselves last year with a run through the 'Super 8s' producing a first All-Ireland semi-final appearance in 30 years. And the new All-Ireland quarter-final format gets a big thumbs-up from Beggan.
"I loved it. Kerry coming to Clones, the carnival atmosphere on a summer's day, Clones streets all lined up with green and gold and white and blue. It was like an Ulster final just later in the year and I think it was a huge success.
"Maybe there is a wee bit of tinkering with provincial champions getting their home game at the start but I think they are on top of that but I loved it. And any player I talked to loved it. You are playing more games in summer time, more games in provincial grounds and not coming to Croke Park and even going to Galway that time the scenes after when we qualified.
"And even on the bus going home that night, the streets lined with people; you don't get that in Dublin, nothing against Croke Park, everyone loves playing here, but you get that in provincial grounds and the county grounds."
Monaghan make the short hop to tackle Cavan and while the Farney have won the last three championship meetings between the sides, a single score has separated the sides in each of those encounters.
"You're going down to a different atmosphere than what you are used to," says Beggan. "It will be a hard-hitting game, Cavan probably have a different style of play under new management so they'll probably try to play a bit of football. Playing against Cavan, nothing comes easy, the tackling is that wee bit harder.
"A lot of people give out about Ulster football but the last couple of games they have went down to the wire. Cavan hit the crossbar, I think, two years ago in the championship that could have levelled the game.
"Another game went to a point with the last kick from Conor McManus so they are good games against Cavan but very intense ones too and that's what we expect each time."