There was no fooling around by Monaghan senior footballers in April as they marched to victory in Division Two of the Allianz National Football League, taking the title with a comprehensive defeat of Donegal in the final, at Croke Park.

The players played their part expertly in the victory trail but just as there is always a good woman behind a good man there is also a good manager behind a good team. That has been especially true of the Farney fellows as their team boss laid the solid foundations of victory.

And for the role he has played in bringing the league title to Monaghan last month, MALACHY O’ROURKE wins the Ulster GAA Writers’ Merit Award for April.

UGAAWA vice-chairman JP Graham hands over the Belleek Living Vase, part of the April Merit Award, to Monaghan manager Malachy O'Rourke with association chairman John Martin (right) keeping a watching brief.
Picture by Peadar McMahon.

April winner Malachy O’Rourke with from left: Noel Duffy, Monaghan PRO; Anita Finnegan, Monaghan County Secretary; Eileen Keenan, Monaghan Assistant Secretary.
Pic: Peadar McMahon

Since the Enniskillen schoolteacher took over Monaghan, the county has swept to USFC success and now Div 2 league honours plus promotion to the top grade. There is no denying the influence that Malachy has had on the squad of players that play with the same passion as their boss showed when wearing the Derrylin and Fermanagh colours in the past.

“Certainly, I’m very pleased with winning the Merit Award but I must use the old cliché that I’m accepting it on behalf of all the players. It is great to be recognized, personally, but this is a real good, honest bunch of lads in the Monaghan panel and they work hard. After having promotion won they stayed grounded and finished the job by winning the divisional final,” O’Rourke stressed when receiving the presentation at a function in Quinn’s Corner on Monday, May 5.

He added: “The league is now won and we have to push on for the championship. We are back in training and looking forward to the Ulster quarter-final against either Tyrone or Down – that won’t be easy.”

Among Malachy O’Rourke’s challengers, for the award, were his players Kieran Hughes and Dessie Mone, surely and indication of the influence he has had. Others very much in the running were Antrim’s hurling sharpshooter Paul Shiels and Derry’s solid full-back Chrissie McKaigue but the Monaghan manager is a clearcut winner.

For his award, he gets the engraved donated Belleek China Vase, specially designed silver cuff links from Omeath jeweller Garrett Mallon, training gear from O’Neill’s Sportswear and a sports voucher from the Ulster GAA Writers’ Association. He will also get two complimentary tickets and overnight accommodation for the UGAAWA 27th Annual Banquet, at the Great Northern Hotel, Bundoran, on Saturday, November 1, 2014.