Saturday 17 November 2018

No-nonsense Wylie the rock which defiant Farney men are built upon

Drew Wylie. Photo: Sportsfile
Drew Wylie. Photo: Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Everything about Drew Wylie is a throwback to a bygone era. From his job as a linesman with the ESB to his no-nonsense style as Monaghan full-back, Wylie is old-school in every sense of the word.

Much of the talk usually centres around Conor McManus and Rory Beggan and their remarkable individual exploits for the Farney men, but Wylie has been one of the rocks which Malachy O'Rourke has built his team around.

Two Ulster titles and consistent performances in the League's top tier in recent years are some reward for the efforts of Wylie and others, but Sunday's All-Ireland SFC semi-final clash with Tyrone marks new territory.

For 30 years, they have waited for the opportunity to perform in the last four and their blistering 'Super 8s' performance against Galway last Saturday night in Salthill has helped to book a milestone semi-final place.

The Ballybay Pearse Brothers defender, who lines out alongside his younger brother Ryan in the full-back line, has no intention of stopping there, however, and he doesn't want their journey to end.

Maturity

Things could have been so much different for Monaghan when Fermanagh's smash-and-grab knocked them out of the race for provincial honours, but they have shown huge maturity to bounce back to their best.

It's not something they have been renowned for in the past, but Wylie never had any doubt that they would get back on the horse - and they have done so in spectacular fashion.

"There's a lot of belief in the group. There was a lot of disappointment after the Fermanagh game but there was only one thing for it - get back on the road and see where we can get. Now we're in an All-Ireland semi-final and it's something to look forward to," Wylie said.

"We have worked hard over the last number of years trying to get over the quarter-final stage. There were disappointments after not getting over it, but to get over it and get into a semi-final is massive."

Wylie was dismissed late on against the Tribesmen for a second bookable offence, but will be in action in Croke Park on Sunday when they meet Mickey Harte's Red Hand - who they have already defeated in Ulster.

O'Rourke's side are two wins away from becoming the latest first-time All-Ireland winners since Tyrone in 2003. Should they beat their neighbours, further pandemonium would hit Monaghan as a first All-Ireland final since 1930 would be the reward. If they are to rewrite history, Wylie is sure to be a driving force.

Irish Independent

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