By Barry McEneaney
Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke expressed his delight at the way his charges bounced back from last week’s disappointing defeat to arch rivals Cavan to inflict a heavy defeat on Sligo in Clones this afternoon.
The Oriel County, who welcomed the influential Paul Finlay back to their starting line-up, recorded a 1-12 to 0-07 victory against a listless Sligo side to reignite their promotion challenge.
“I'm delighted, firstly with the win and getting the two points, because it is a very tight division and particularly to bounce back after a very disappointing outing against Cavan,” O’Rourke told RTÉ Sport.
“In the first half I was happy with the work-rate and the attitude of the boys. We just weren’t finishing off the moves we were creating. That is something we need to address going forward. But overall, I’m delighted to get the points and with the performance.”
Next Saturday’s encounter against Allianz League Division 3 leaders Fermanagh at Brewster Park provides Monaghan with a litmus test for their promotion push and will have added significance for Ernesider O’Rourke.
“It will be strange in a way because I’ve been involved with Fermanagh football all my life, playing underage level right up to senior level,” he said.
“I coached in the school up there and obviously I was involved with the senior team for three years.
“We’re under no illusions, we have to keep improving and Fermanagh is going to be a completely different test next Saturday night. We’re going to have to up our performance if we’re going to get a result out of it.”
"Fermanagh is going to be a completely different test next Saturday night" - Malachy O'Rourke
While promotion to the second tier of the league remains an achievable goal, O’Rourke is all too aware that there is little room for slip-ups in an ultra-competitive division.
“Every team sets out with that aim (promotion) in mind,” he admitted.
“The way the table is set at the minute, there is nothing to say for any team that they can’t get promoted and there is no team running away with it.
“One of our aims is to get promotion. There is no point denying that. But we realise that in every single game we can’t afford to lose any more points.”
Sligo’s subdued performance left their manager Kevin Walsh somewhat deflated, but he admitted expectations were low heading to Clones.
“We never got going, but in saying that, it wasn’t a case of just turning up and winning these two points,” Walsh said.
“I don’t think Monaghan have been beaten here in the last two or three years.
“Monaghan have been hurting a bit from the week before and we had our win.
“Falling 0-06 to 0-02 behind instead of 0-04 to 0-03 was a bit of a killer for us. We never got going.”
The Sligo boss was unhappy with a number of decisions during the game and fired a broadside at the officials in charge at St Tiernach's Park, saying; “The real killer for me was when we were starting brightly, a 50 was called, we were maybe two to three yards away from hands which was absolute crazy stuff.
“I know they are talking about Hawkeye and those little things. We were four points down putting pressure on in the first five minutes.
"All of a sudden, Monaghan under pressure, and a 45 was called up by an umpire that was miles away and a referee standing beside it. It’s crazy stuff. That wasn't the losing of the game, but a blind man could see it.”