O'Rourke hails McManus 'quality' as Farney prosper

Monaghan 1-11 Mayo 0-12

Fergal Boland of Mayo has a kick at the posts Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Newsdesk

They won't be pressing the alarm bells in Mayo just yet, but Stephen Rochford's men have left themselves with an uphill battle in the league this season after this loss.

Having lost their opening three games in the competition a year ago, Rochford is all too aware how difficult it is to make up ground, even with several regulars yet to come back into the fray.

Andy Moran of Mayo during the match Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"It is alright making mistakes if you are winning games, but it is never okay to make mistakes and go about losing them," said Rochford.

"Mistakes can be made positively, you can be looking to do the right thing, you can be a little bit shy on your match sharpness.

"We haven't got too much time to rest and consider that. We go to Kerry next week and we have to do better than what we did today and we have to be a lot better.

"We lost three games at the start last year. It will be our intention to go and win the game. The reality in this league is that games start running out.

Colm Boyle finds his path blocked by Monaghan's Kieran Murphy during Mayo's defeat in Castlebar Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

"We have got to improve and going down to Kerry is a difficult place to go, but we will dust ourselves down and get ready for that trip."

He said his men have plenty of room for improvement and he will be expecting to see that in the next few weeks, starting in Kerry on Saturday night.


"There is ample decision-making, ball-handling, shot-selection, there is a scope of different things, but that's not uncommon in this stage of the competition," said Rochford.

"We are in the first weekend in February and I know that we will improve as the competition goes through, but we have got to pick up points and it's very disappointing to lose two points at home."

His men were blown away by Monaghan's strong start, with Conor McManus punishing them as they opened up a 0-5 to 0-1 lead after 20 minutes.

Mayo got their act together and by half-time five of their forwards had scored, with Evan Regan getting a couple of points as they went in leading by 0-6 to 0-5 at the interval.

However, Monaghan struck after the restart with McManus setting up Darren Hughes for a goal from close range, before skipper Colin Walshe pointed to make it 1-6 to 0-6.

The sides twice exchanged points before McManus put four between them 15 minutes from the end.

Exchanges were becoming more tough and Monaghan lost wing-forward Karl O'Connell to a second yellow card.

Cillian O'Connor did most to haul Mayo back into contention, but they lacked real penetration up front and while they got the gap back to the minimum, McManus sealed a great win with a superb point in the dying moments.

Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke said that his charges will not be getting carried away with their first ever win on Mayo soil.

His men showed great courage to carve out a deserved success in front of a crowd of 10,080 in MacHale Park on Saturday night.

And, not for the first time, it was McManus who steered them to a great start to their league campaign, shooting six points in addition to setting up the only goal of the game.

"That's the value of having a quality forward. He can do things like that and it's great to have him," said O'Rourke.

Monaghan host neighbours Cavan next weekend in what should be another cracking contest and while confidence will be high, O'Rourke said that they will be keeping their feet on the ground.

"We are not going to get too excited, with different teams at different levels of preparation and things like that. We wanted to come down here and get the win and get the momentum built up," he added.

"It just gives you that bit of breathing space rather than if you lose a couple of games early on.

"We will take the two points. We are delighted to get them and move on and we have a tough game coming up next weekend.

"Mayo are just a very experienced team, and kept piling on the pressure towards the end with a lot of physically strong fellas.

"Our fellas are sore and they put in a big shift, but you expect nothing different from Mayo and they will be a force to be reckoned with again this year."

He expects Mayo to bounce back from this opening night loss, but will be concentrating on his own side in the weeks ahead.

"Mayo are a very strong, experienced team and they had a lot of regulars missing there tonight. A lot of fellas that would have played in the All-Ireland final weren't starting there. They brought a few on.

"We just concentrate on ourselves. We knew Mayo was going to be a very hard nut to crack I am just delighted we did."

Scorers - Monaghan: C McManus 0-6 (0-3f, 0-1 45), D Hughes 1-1, C Walshe 0-1, T Kerr 0-1, R Beggan 0-1 (1f), G Doogan 0-1.

Mayo: C O'Connor 0-7 (5f), E Regan 0-2 (1f), F Boland 0-1, K McLoughlin 0-1, A Freeman 0-1.

Monaghan: R Beggan 7; D Wylie 7, F Kelly 6, R Wylie 7; N McAdam 7, C Walshe 7, K O'Connell 7; D Hughes 8, K Hughes 7; G Doogan 7, S Carey 6, K Duffy 6; C McCarthy 7, T Kerr 7, C McManus 9. Subs: D Malone 7 for McCarthy (35), R McAnespie 6 for Carey (51), O Duffy 6 for Kerr (58), J Mealiff 6 for McAdam (66).

Mayo: D Clarke 7; K Higgins 7, D Newcombe 6, P Durcan 6; C Boyle 7, S Coen 6, D Drake 6; D Vaughan 7, D Kirby 7; F Boland 7, K McLoughlin 7, J Doherty 6; E Regan 7, A Freeman 6, C O'Connor 8. Subs: D O'Connor 6 for Regan (48), T Parsons 6 for Kirby (52), A Moran 6 for Freeman (55), C O'Shea 6 for Doherty (66).

Ref: Conor Lane (Cork).