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McManus admits ‘clock is running out on my innings’



McManus admits ‘clock is running out on my innings’

Conor McManus says he’s made no decision on whether to retire from inter-county football, though he acknowledged that the “clock is running out on my innings” after Monaghan’s exit from the All-Ireland championship.

It had been assumed that 2024 was likely to be the three-time All-Star’s last hurrah with the county side, though a disappointed McManus insisted it wasn’t the day for such an announcement after they exited the championship at the hands of Galway at Pearse Stadium.

“No, I haven’t done that,” McManus told RTÉ Sport, when asked whether he had retired from the inter-county scene.

“Today’s not about me. It’s about Monaghan and we didn’t get into the quarter-final. That’s the biggest disappointment.

“It’s no big secret that the clock’s running out on my innings. But it is what it is.”

In possibly his final few moments in a Monaghan jersey, McManus clipped over two injury-time frees to reduce it to a one-score game.

But there was time for little else and the hosts, despite a sluggish first half display, won by three points to book their spot in the quarters.

It was all looking so good for Monaghan in the lead-up to half-time. They led 0-05 to 0-03 on the half hour having played into the breeze in a damp and drizzly Salthill.

However, Galway rustled up the next three points to nose ahead by the minimum at half-time and they kicked on impressively after the restart, Paul Conroy, John Maher and the efficient Rob Finnerty to the fore as they built up a five-point cushion entering the closing stages.

It might have panned out differently had Barry McBennett ferocious shot not twanged off the crossbar when the score stood at 0-10 to 0-08.

“We put ourselves in a really good position in the first half. The boys played extremely well in the first half. The workrate and effort from the boys in the first 40-45 minutes was excellent.

“We just didn’t capitalise on it and kick on in the second half to get the result.

“Barry stuck that chance against Meath. That’s the small margins. Inches. That’s just the unlucky breaks you get in championship football.”

Andrew Woods and Micheál Bannigan at full-time

After reaching all the way to the last-four in 2023, this campaign marked a regression for Monaghan with relegation from Division 1 and a difficult championship campaign, played out amid injuries and high-profile absences.

“It’s been a tough year for Monaghan,” sighed McManus. “It’s been a very tough year. We had all sorts of obstacles thrown at us. From some lads stepping away from the panel. Rory (Beggan) was obviously gone from the league with the NFL thing. Karl Gallagher was at the AFL. We had injuries upon injuries.

“It’s a very resilient bunch in there. Getting knock-backs, poor results week after week. But boys kept hanging in there, putting their shoulder to the wheel.

“That group of lads can be proud of how they responded to that. Because it wasn’t an easy year, it wasn’t an easy year to be in the dressing room.

“You spend so much time living in each other’s pockets from September-October time. It’s over now. Just get back to the clubs and see where that takes us from here.”

While McManus’ generation is in the twilight of their career, their greatest player of the 2010s insists that there are footballers emerging in the county, and they’ll persist regardless of what occurs next.

“You see the amount of younger lads that have been brought into the panel this year. Monaghan will keep going. Monaghan will keep going.

“The nature of Monaghan players is that they’ll keep coming back for more.”

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