Monday 24 September 2018

Nine games with, nine games without - Paraic Duffy directive reaps benefits for club game in Monaghan

'McManus describes them as 'five-pointers' and the novel format is resulting in widespread harmony in the county.' Photo: Sportsfile
'McManus describes them as 'five-pointers' and the novel format is resulting in widespread harmony in the county.' Photo: Sportsfile

Orla Bannon

A creative blueprint which is in part the brainchild of former GAA director-general Paraic Duffy means Monaghan may actually be one of the few counties strictly adhering to a 'club first' agenda this month.

Two-time All-Star Conor McManus has already played two league games for Clontibret and will play two more this month before the focus shifts back to Monaghan's championship campaign, but they are no ordinary club games.

McManus describes them as 'five-pointers' and the novel format is resulting in widespread harmony in the county.

"They have changed the league structure so clubs are now playing nine games with county players and nine without," he says.

"Matches with county players are worth five points and games without are worth two. We're the first county this was tried in.

"It's a progressive idea by the Monaghan county board, the clubs voted for it and it seems to be working out. Everyone is happy.

"Last year we had 18 league games and you would have had two or three starred games without county players, but generally we would have played in about 15 of those games.

Packed

"We would have packed about six of them into a 21-day period around this time, but instead we're playing four five-pointers this month.

"It's a new one, but the point is the club players will get games throughout the summer while we are away with Monaghan."

Duffy, who stepped down from his role as the GAA's Director General at the end of last month, was instrumental in the attempt to try something new.

"Paraic would always be trying to come up with solutions to problems, because this time of year is always difficult regardless," McManus adds.

Now an established Division One side and with four All-Ireland quarter-final appearances in five years under Malachy O'Rourke, Monaghan should have every confidence of advancing to the inaugural Super 8s.

An opening round Ulster championship showdown with provincial champions Tyrone in Omagh on May 20 is an obvious stumbling block, and the outcome of that game will determine the direction of their summer.

McManus concedes: "Targets will change on the basis of that result".

"It's the same for Galway and Mayo, whoever loses it's a long road from there to the Super 8s and then when you get there, you have three weeks on the bounce.

"So it will challenge panels to the max but I think the way most teams approach the league, in terms of getting as many games into players as possible and making use of their panels, will help in that regard."

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport