Monaghan’s Conor McManus reflects on fallout from practice violation as ‘crazy crazy moment’

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For some time last spring, a case about the violation of the training of footballers in Monaghan was handed to An Garda Síochána and the Ministry of Health.

It came just after the Dublin footballers were similarly caught red-handed and a few months after their counterparts from Cork and Down were hauled over the coals to assemble at a time when this was clearly prohibited by the GAA’s own regulations.

The Dublin and Monaghan transgressions were somewhat different in that they met the severe government restrictions in place at the time, which is a big part of why they were greeted with anger by much of the public. ; people were frustrated that, having lived under the constraints themselves, a number of the inter-county teams were not.

Then there was another body of opinion that emphasized the minimal risk their actions posed to public health.

Conor McManus considers the whole episode to be a “surreal” episode.

“When you think about it now, it just shows how crazy the whole situation was,” the Monaghan star said. “We’ll probably come back to that in four or five years and we’ll talk about guards coming to training grounds and Gaelic grounds, we’ll come back and say it was just a crazy, crazy weather.

“Did it affect us? It brought a little bit of unwanted publicity towards the team, but I don’t think there was a lot of negative publicity towards us. It further highlighted how crazy we were.

“A lot of people were probably a bit on our side as you could see why people were training in the great outdoors.

“It didn’t hurt when you saw what happened since then, we were in shape to play a full championship and we had comeback crowds and everything.

“Look, this all coincided with the coming back of the vaccines. It’s something that happened, we dealt with it back then, we put it in place and we just moved on. thing.

“I know Covid is still pretty serious right now, especially over the past two weeks. But we have all returned to some form of normalcy in our lives over the past few weeks and months.

“We’re back to pubs and restaurants and things like that over there, and when you watch the guards and the Justice Department and things like that come into the Gaelic fields and tell you that you are not allowed to be on land, it was surreal.

“Like I said, we’ll look back a number of years and just say that was crazy stuff.”

Like his Dublin counterpart Dessie Farrell, Monaghan boss Seamus McEnaney was hit with a 12-week ban meaning he was not allowed to play a role in their League campaign and he also missed out. the first stages of the Ulster Championship.

“Look, that wasn’t ideal,” McManus admits. “But I guess Banty himself would have said after that that he was on the stand and had a good point of view. He was connected to Vinny (Corey) and Donie Buckley and Daithi (David McCague) on the line.

“So it didn’t have a huge impact and everything we needed to get the message across was conveyed and we kept communicating with Banty the entire time.

“We did what we had to do and in the end the game we lost in the Ulster final, it wasn’t because Banty was back on the line for it. You can’t say it affected us not to have Banty.

The potential impact of the pandemic on his livelihoods was of much greater concern to McManus. When the shutters fell in March last year, his fledgling auction business in the town of Monaghan was only 16 months old and he dreaded the idea of ​​another foreclosure given the recent surge in numbers. of Covid-19 cases, although most indications suggest it doesn’t happen.

“It was definitely a challenge. Every time I took over the business you had a contingency plan for a lot of things, taking over staff, taking over a new business, trying to keep customers happy and you run a lot of things but you definitely shut down for six or eight months were not part of it.

“It didn’t make life very easy for long periods of time, closing the office and having staff at home. Things like that, you know, it hasn’t been busy.

“I am one of the thousands of companies across the country who have lived in the same boat, so I am certainly not unique in this area. But it was definitely a challenge. Hopefully we’ve seen the flip side of this from the point of view that there won’t be any closures or lockdowns.

“We’ve all been through this, and hopefully if you can navigate through this, you can navigate most things from here on out.”

Including a 16th season with Monaghan, the 33-year-old not hesitating to make himself available for McEnaney for 2022.

“I think if the body allows you to go ahead and do it, go ahead and do it. It is well known at this point that I am just managing my hip.

“As long as I can handle this and stay the course, I will continue, as long as I provide something to the team and I am wanted in the group, I will continue to do so.”

Conor McManus was speaking courtesy of Imagine Broadband. Supporting the national broadband plan, Imagine is extending its broadband network by giving priority to the 200,000 rural households currently facing major delays in broadband. Check your coverage on imagine.ie.

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