Hughes says Monaghan are ready to dispel 'myth' about one-man team
Darren Hughes feels Monaghan have moved away from any perception that they are a "one-man team" as they look forward to a fifth All-Ireland quarter-final in six years.
Monaghan have had a relatively kind pathway back to the last eight for the second successive year, drawing three 2018 Division 4 teams - Waterford, Leitrim and Laois - to pick themselves up after defeat to Fermanagh.
Their fourth-round qualifier win over Laois in Navan featured 10 different scorers amassing 19 points, a trend Hughes believes dispels that perception they depend too heavily on Conor McManus.
"We've been labelled a one-man team at times. But when you sit back and look at it, that's four out of five championship games where we've had 10-plus scorers," said the Scotstown man. "It was only the Fermanagh game where we didn't reach the level of performance we needed to, where we were below that threshold. It's obviously something where boys are getting into the shooting area and everybody is working hard."
Monaghan return to Croke Park for their first game against Kildare this Sunday and again Hughes is keen to dispel another perception - that they struggle to win games there.
"That can be a bit of a myth too. We've won league finals, we've beaten Kildare at Croke Park, we've beaten Down at Croke Park.
"People will make of it what they will but we feel we've had big performances at Croke Park in past games. Obviously, on the big days we have failed and performance levels haven't been where we've needed them to be but both teams have a bit of momentum behind them now," he said.
Monaghan have lost quarter-finals to Tyrone (2013 and 2015) and Dublin (2014 and 2017) and there's a sense now that this team must push beyond that.
"We've been unlucky, we've played four quarter-finals in the last five years, played Dublin twice and Tyrone twice after winning Ulster, so obviously they were going to have their tails up to prove a point and to beat us.
"But performance levels weren't where they needed to be when we got there to Croke Park. There's enough experience within the set-up now to move on. It's a different format but we'll be gunning for it."
Hughes felt Monaghan were open to any challenge after the loss to Fermanagh.
"We were that sore we didn't give a damn what was thrown at us. We were going to embrace it, take it on, didn't matter. I suppose the draw was probably lucky enough, we drew three Division 4 teams. But we've shown we can be as good as anybody on our day."