Kelly: There's no point being in a semi-final and then not showing up
Twelve months ago Fintan Kelly was rampaging forward from corner-back to rattle the net in successive championship games and Monaghan boss Malachy O'Rourke clearly saw enough to convince him of his attacking potential.
Moving to the other end of the pitch has stifled the immediate progress of many a player with the different demands of various positions, but the versatile Clones clubman has taken to it like a duck to water.
Having been nominated for an All-Star in defence last year, Kelly has quickly become a mainstay of the Farney attack and helped them to end their 30-year wait for a semi-final appearance.
There was delirium in Monaghan after an inspiring defeat of Galway booked their last-four clash against Tyrone this Sunday (3.30), but Kelly is keeping his feet on the ground and has no intention for their journey to end.
"It means a lot to supporters who have followed us through thick and thin. After losing to Fermanagh, they could have walked away but they didn't, they came back and went straight down to Waterford, to Leitrim, to follow us," Kelly said.
"We get a serious buzz from that but as players we have to come down very quick because we have a massive game on Sunday. There's no point getting to a semi-final after this long waiting to get to it and not showing up."
Many questioned whether Monaghan had blown their qualification hopes when David Clifford's last-gasp goal denied them a famous championship victory over Kerry in round two, but they gave their response in some style last weekend.
The ravenous hunger of O'Rourke's side was plain for all to see as they blew the Tribesmen away with a double-scores victory, 0-16 to 0-8, and Kelly felt painful lessons were learned from the draw with the Kingdom.
"There was a lot at stake for us. Galway were through, and if Galway were hungrier than us then it would have been a bad sign. We had to be hungrier than Galway and thankfully we were, and we pushed on," he said.
"We had a cushion this week that we didn't have against Kerry, and that's massive. Those few scores, four points, five points, six points, it was massive for us because what happened against Kerry wasn't good enough."
Despite their rise, Kelly is well aware that they can't get carried away or Mickey Harte's Red Hand side will bring them crashing back down to earth.
- In yesterday's Irish Independent we incorrectly stated that Brian Talty was sent off in the 1983 All Ireland football final. We are happy to clarify that he was not.
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