Saturday 24 March 2018

Gap between top teams and the rest getting wider - Monaghan boss O'Rourke reflects on heavy Dublin defeat

Eoghan O'Gara of Dublin in action against Colin Walshe of Monaghan
Eoghan O'Gara of Dublin in action against Colin Walshe of Monaghan
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

After seeing his side get torn apart by Dublin in Croke Park, Monaghan manager Malachy O’Rourke believes there is an elite group in football pulling away from the rest of the chasing pack.

The Farney men were completely outclassed by Dublin at HQ and O'Rourke admitted the likes of Monaghan are finding it more difficult to keep pace with the top sides.

“You can’t argue with that after today,” O’Rourke replied, when asked if the big counties were pulling away. “We knew coming up we’d have to pay a lot better. Expectation has gone up in the county because we’d been here before. We knew it was a tall order, but felt we could put it up to them. After today, Armagh got well beaten, and certainly there are a couple of counties getting that bit stronger and have pulled ahead this year.”

The Fermanagh native conceded that the ten point gap between the sides came about through a combination of Dublin brilliance and Monaghan ineptitude.

“Coming up we knew we had to play way above what we’ve produced this year, but still felt it was within us to do that. We wanted to make sure we set ourselves up well because we’ve seen Dublin get early goals and end games early.

We never really got that and that’s the most disappointing thing - we never really challenged them. We had a lot of possession but had a lot of turnovers, I think it was 15, and our choice of play and execution was off.”

Jim Gavin indicated his happiness with the result but insists there is work to be done ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final with Tyrone.

“We’re just happy to win a quarter-final and be into a semi-final. We knew going into the game Monaghan would be battle hardened and the result is a reflection of the respect we gave to Monaghan. We prepared very well and thought the players, in the first half, played well. They looked controlled and composed and went in deserved leaders at half-time.

“That preparation the last two weeks was very good, there was a lot of work done in the shadows. You saw when Monaghan got a bit of a run, they have the capacity and capability to take scores, but our team defence was very strong. (We kicked) lot of wides so we’ve something to work on before the next day.”

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