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MAL: I KNEW WE HAD THIS GAME IN US.

Byline: MICHAEL SCULLY

MALACHY O'ROURKE could feel this was performance was coming.

It was in the recent challenge game against Mayo, when Monaghan shook up last year's All-Ireland finalists.

It was in training this week. The focus, the hunger was there.

In his first year in charge, O'Rourke knew Monaghan were better than the displays against Antrim and Cavan.

But it needed to come out against Donegal.

And it did, making a mockery of the 6/1 and even 7/1 odds quotes by bookies.

"You're bound to get a bit of energy out of that," said O'Rourke. "But we could understand why it was because Donegal have been brilliant in the Championship over the last number of years and we didn't play all that well.

pAaj "But I knew there was a big performance in the boys and I told them that. People were judging us on the performances against Antrim and Cavan and we weren't judging ourselves on those performances. We knew there was more to come and luckily enough that's what happened."

tWml " O'Rourke namechecked former bosses Eamonn McEnaney and Seamus "Banty"btj w cbM" McEnaney for their work in getting Monaghan to here - and also the players who soldiered through the dark days with no Ulster titles to show.

dU Some of them were still around for yesterday's provincial triumph, including Paul Finlay, Dick Clerkin and Mwgas syci DDTommy Freeman - who came off the bench to score the final point with a flourish.

"An awful lot of them boys have given an awful lot to football," said O'Rourke.

"That was one of the things... Donegal wanted to come here and win three-in-a-row but the lads there have put so much into football and made so many sacrifices and hadn't got any silverware.

"So it was a big motivating factor and it was a big chance and they didn't want to let it up too easy."

Kieran Hughes top scored with three points along with his forward partner Conor McManus - and knew as soon as he pulled the curtains yesterday morning he'd be ready.

"I saw that it was dull and the sun was behind the clouds," Hughes smiled. "I wouldn't be a big man for playing in the heat and having sandpaper mouth.

"It's hard to get words out of me here. It's hard to describe that. But I'm not shocked. I knew there was a performance in this team."

McManus echoed those sentiments. "We knew we had the talent in that dressing room, that's as good a squad as there is anywhere in Ireland I believe," said the Clontibret man.

"We went out and delivered. We worked hard. From the start of the year every man worked hard, there were no excuses and we delivered.

"Walking off the field against Down in the semi-final last year was a particularly low spot.

"But we got our heads down from the start of this year."

CAPTION(S):

OVERJOYED Malachy O'Rourke, right, at final whistle
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUIR
Date:Jul 22, 2013
Words:497
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