1 July 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan team-manager Eamonn McEneaney says he doesn’t expect to see the same calibre of performance again from his charges as was evident in Tullamore last Saturday evening.
While McEneaney refused to apportion blame for his side’s hugely disappointing 1-10 to 1-18 defeat to Offaly in their All-Ireland SFC Qualifier first round match, he conceded that the team’s performance overall wasn’t one he’d normally associate with Monaghan teams.
“We underperformed, big time, last Saturday and there’s no question that it was a poor, all-round performance and everyone associated with the team has to hold their hands up ’cause it was simply not good enough for championship football,” the Castleblayney native acknowledged.
“I was disappointed with the team’s performance, dissapointed for the whole county and especially disappointed for the great support we had down there at the game but the players are much better than they showed in Tullamore.
“While Offaly’s eight point win was a fair reflection of the difference between the teams on the day, it wasn’t a true reflection of where Monaghan are at this point in time.
“It’s the one thing I would try and demand from the team is that they battle and fight to the last and that they give 110% but the statistics of the game showed we didn’t do enough of that.
“They didn’t perform on the day for whatever reason; maybe all the talk about a good draw might have encouraged complacency but I don’t think it did ’cause we hammered home our belief that Offaly would come out fighting after what was said about them in some sections of the media.”
McEneaney was particularly disappointed with certain aspects of his team’s display, most notably the way Monaghan clawed their way back from being 0-1 to 1-5 adrift after 19 minutes to level matters at 1-6 apiece only to allow their hands to be ripped from the tiller.
“We should have pushed on after working our way back but, instead, we conceded a couple of soft scores and we went onto turn the ball over eight times in the first half overall.
“There were three attacks that we engineered at the start of the second half that had we taken them would have given us the confidence to maybe go on and force the pace ’till the end.”
In the world of sport, confidence is very often the key to unlocking one’s potential and, in that regard, the Monaghan manager seems at a loss as to why the team’s fightback against Offaly and their bravura display against Tyrone didn’t inject the level of confidence that might have propelled them past the chequered flag in pole position in Tullamore.
While Offaly boss Cribbin confessed after last Saturday’s game that his charges’ performance in downing Monaghan was Offaly’s best display under his watch over the course of the past three seasons, McEneaney was in doubt but that it was Monaghan’s poorest performance of 2011.
McEneaney discounts the suggestion that Monaghan lacked motivation or weren’t sufficiently ‘up’ for the fight in Tullamore.
He insists that the county squad was “well tuned in for the couple of weeks after the Tyrone match and going into the match on the day itself, I felt the lads were prepared mentally for a major challenge.”
“I can’t believe the players weren’t in the right frame of mind or that, psychogically, they were going to be caught cold or caught in a complacent mode.
“The lads were told several times that we expected Offaly to show a lot of pride in the jersey and we felt that Offaly are one of the few teams in the country who, on their day, can bring any team crashing back down to earth if they’re underestimated by the opposition.
“Offaly aren’t a top flight team but, on their day, they are capable of playing high quality football. The likes of Niall McNamee is one of the best forwards in the country and he showed that last weekend.
“Unfortunately we just didn’t rise to the challenge in trying to deal with him (McNamee) although I’d have to say that the kind of football I saw from Offaly in Tullamore last Saturday was way above anything I had seen in the division three league matches I saw earlier this year.” Now almost a week since his team crashed out of the championship, thus guillotining their year in the process, the former county and provincial senior championship medallist is adamant that the management team, even with the benefit of hindsight, wouldn’t have done anything different to avert the team’s exit from the race to land the Sam Maguire Cup.
“We had no inkling that the wheels were going to come off the wagon in the manner they did in Tullamore.
“All year, the lads showed tremendous commitment and I couldn’t have asked anything more of them but for some reason we weren’t at the races last Saturday.
“It’s very hard to put your finger on what went wrong and I couldn’t say what the team’s real worth is; whether it’s somewhere in between the form they showed against Tyrone and that which they showed against Offaly.
“The lads have tried their best from the word go this year but some have had to learn very quickly what top flight league football and championship football are all about.
“Last Saturday saw us put in a very disappointing performance and the manner of the defeat was particularly disappointing, but I don’t expect to see that happen again.”

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