Conor McManus knows that Tyrone players will travel to Croke Park for the All-Ireland final confident of victory, but he still can’t see past Dublin for Sam Maguire.

Tyrone beat McManus’s Monaghan by a single point in their semi-final, revenge for their earlier Ulster defeat, to set up the decider with the Dubs.

The former All Star attacker says the Farney County would have been confident of beating the Boys in Blue had they been able to get over the last-four hurdle and sees no reason why Mickey Harte’s team won’t be the same.

But having seen both sides up close this season, and having beaten them both, McManus can only see one winner.

"It’s very hard to look past Dublin and the strength of their squad," he said, speaking to RTÉ Sport at an event where he was honoured as the PwC GAA/GPA footballer of the month for July.

"On the flip side of that, Tyrone will be confident in a one-off game that they can pull off a performance that’s worthy of winning an All-Ireland.

"If we were going into an All-Ireland in a week and-a-half’s time would we be thinking the same? Yes, so I don't see why Tyrone would be thinking any different."

Speaking about the four-in-a-row chasing Dubs, he said: "They seem, looking from the outside in, to be playing a wee bit inside themselves and that would potentially be the fear in the final if they do really cut loose they will be very hard to stop."

Monaghan, the only team to beat Dublin in competitive action this year when they met in the League back in March, reached their first All-Ireland semi-final in 30 years this summer, topping their Super 8s group ahead of Galway and eliminating Kerry and Kildare.

McManus in action during the semi-final loss to Tyrone

That was a milestone for this team under manager Malachy O’Rourke, but McManus, who still hasn’t sat down and watched the Tyrone defeat, says that disappointment lingers.

"From our end of things we didn’t perform as well as we would have liked to," he said. "The two performances coming into that, the Kerry and the Galway games, and even the Kildare game to an extent, in the Super 8s showed we were motoring quite well and were improving with each game. 

"We probably didn’t bring that to the semi-final and even at that probably still had chances to go ahead and win it.

"There’s no medals handed out on semi-final day and that’s not what we wanted. We didn’t want to get to a semi-final and go home - we wanted to get to the final and be getting ready to play Dublin in ten days' time.

Monaghan beat the Dubs this year

"The season ended in disappointment, there’s no doubt about it, but there are bits and pieces we can build on for next year and that’ll certainly be the target."

The positives McManus points to are the contribution of younger players who were introduced over the past two seasons and the consistently high levels of performance from more established players such as Karl O’Connell and Rory Beggan.

And a crucial ingredient was manager O’Rourke, who all of the players are hoping stays on for at least another year in charge.

"It’s vital," said McManus. "He’s been excellent with this group of players and what he’s done with this group of Monaghan players the past six years has been brilliant. The respect he has within Monaghan and within the dressing room is unbelievable. That he stays is vital."