O'Rourke warns Monaghan they must do better to reach 'Super 8s'
Monaghan 1-19 Leitrim 0-9
Malachy O'Rourke says his Monaghan troops are ready to take on anyone in Round 4 but they must improve after they eased to victory in the boiling heat in Carrick-on-Shannon.
First thing this morning the Ulster side were scheduled to find out if they will take on Cork, Roscommon or Laois next weekend, but after they chipped their way to a sizeable victory on Saturday they look primed for a good crack at the 'Super 8s'.
Conor McCarthy scored the late goal, while he also led the line in the first half, but eventually the defence plugged the holes that appeared in the first 20 minutes to ease to victory.
Had Leitrim made the most of the goal chances that came their way they might have challenged their visitors a bit more in the second period, but the feeling was Monaghan would have been too strong anyway.
A defeat to Fermanagh in the Ulster semi-final briefly dented Monaghan's belief, but they seem to be back in the groove after this win and another against Waterford the previous week. O'Rourke is just happy to be still in the fight.
"All the three defeated provincial finalists are looking for a rebound. They would probably have been disappointed to lose their final. The big thing, we found ourselves, at least they have three weeks to get over that loss," said O'Rourke.
"They will really be itching to get back out and put in a big performance to show that was a once-off.
"We will just take whoever we get. It is going to be a real tough game. We just have to concentrate on our own performance. We know that if we are not better than we were today we are not going to get through it. That's going to be our sole focus over the next week."
Despite falling to a 13-point loss, Leitrim should see this summer as a positive one. They contributed to one of the games of the summer in New York and then claimed a second victory by kicking 25 points against Louth last week. It remains to be seen if Benny Guckian will seek a third year in charge - he said he'd take some time to decide - but on recent showings if they maintain a steady squad under his guidance they can mount a promotion drive out of Division 4.
"You would have to say it's progress," said Guckian. "The one against Louth was very positive, it's disappointing with the scoreline today and I don't think it's a true reflection of how the lads played.
"There's definitely lots to build on, so many players have started wearing the Leitrim jersey and have accounted themselves very well so you hope that they stick with it. That's the most important thing at this stage."
For so long it has been Emlyn Mulligan's responsibility to be Leitrim's scoregetter-in-chief, but this year they seem to have uncovered a couple of gems. Ryan O'Rourke and Jack Heslin were arguably their players of the summer and added five points between them. O'Rourke was denied one of two early Leitrim goal chances by Rory Beggan - the 'keeper also kicked two points - and after that miss Monaghan pushed on with six points in a row to lead 0-10 to 0-4 at half-time.
McManus avoided a red card for his tackle on Michael McWeeney, but was held to two points from play by Paddy Maguire, but Monaghan didn't need him at his best.
Man of the match
Conor McCarthy (Monaghan)
Often second fiddle in the Conor McManus show, it was McCarthy who caught the eye. His first point was a great score from the right, his second after a lovely stutter step, while he also showed energy to get his goal.
Wides: Monaghan 11 (4 first half); Leitrim 7 (3)
Frees: Monaghan 15 (7); Leitrim 14 (7)
Scorers - Monaghan: C McCarthy 1-3 (2f); C McManus 0-5 (3f); R Beggan 0-2 (1f, 1 45); J McCarron (2f), P McKenna 0-2 each; F Kelly, K O'Connell, C Walshe, R Wylie and D Ward 0-1 each. Leitrim: E Mulligan 0-4f; J Heslin 0-3; R O'Rourke 0-2.
Monaghan - R Beggan 8; K Duffy 8, C Boyle 7, R Wylie 8; F Kelly 7, C Walshe 8, D Ward 7; N Kearns 7, D Hughes 6; R McAnespie 7, D Malone 6, K O'Connell 8; C McCarthy 9, T Kerr 6, C McManus 7. Subs: O Duffy 6 for Malone (44), S Carey 6 for T Kerr (44), P McKenna 8 for Kelly (47), N McAdam 6 for Hughes (50), D Mone 5 for Boyle (54), J McCarron 7 for McManus (61).
Leitrim - D McKiernan 8; P Maguire 8, J Mitchell 7, M McWeeney 7; J Rooney 6, S Quinn 6, N Plunkett 6; J Heslin 8, D Wrynn 6; A Flynn 5, R O'Rourke 8, B Gallagher 6; D Rooney 5, D Moran 6, E Mulligan 6. Subs: D McGovern 7 for Gallagher (33), C McGloin 6 for Plunkett (h-t), D Flynn 5 for Moran (54), E Ward 5 for Heslin (61), N McWeeney 5 for J Rooney (67), J Gilheany 6 for Wrynn (71).
Ref - N Cullen (Fermanagh)
Subscribe to The Throw-In, Independent.ie's weekly GAA podcast in association with Allianz, for the best in GAA discussion and analysis every week, with some of the biggest names in football and hurling from Joe Brolly, Tomás Ó'Sé and John Mullane.