Vinny Corey hopes Monaghan’s good times last against Galway

Manager aims for one last hurrah before key players moves on

Meath goalkeeper Billy Hogan saves a shot by Stephen O`Hanlon last weekend, but Monaghan still went on to win. Photograph: James Lawlor/Inpho

After beating Meath last weekend in Cavan to claim Monaghan’s first win in the league or championship since January, manager Vinny Corey was immediately on point with a clear message.

Our championship starts here. It’s all about what happens in the next two weeks, not what happened in the last five months. “In two weeks, there’ll only be four teams left,” he noted, suggesting Monaghan can be among them. Onwards and upwards.

Truth be told, Corey looked as much relieved as rejuvenated not long after watching a limited Meath team whittle a nine-point deficit down to just two in stoppage time. If Monaghan allow Galway, a genuine All-Ireland contender, to get such a run on them at any stage of Saturday’s All-Ireland preliminary quarter-final in Salthill, there probably won’t be any way back.

There is reason for optimism, though, because if any group of players has displayed a desire for hauling themselves out of the trenches and embracing battle, it’s Monaghan.


Four of those who played last weekend – Rory Beggan, Ryan Wylie, Conor McManus and Ryan McAnespie – played in the 2015 Ulster final win, as well as All-Ireland semi-finals in 2018 and 2023. Three currently injured players – Kieran Duffy (hamstring), Karl O’Connell (groin) and Darren Hughes (knee) – also featured in that 2015 provincial final alongside Corey himself.

Many of them have a decade of Division 1 experience, so Corey’s hope that they will rise to the greatest challenges is well founded.

“I have to say, and I have told the boys the same, this is an exceptional group,” said Corey of his panel. “I know in other teams there’d be dissent and boys walking away, we haven’t had any of that. We know we’ve fallen on hard times this last few months and it hasn’t been easy but boys have stuck to it.

“I’m especially thinking about the boys outside the 26, even to keep them, because they weren’t getting into the 26 and we weren’t winning games. That’s a tough place to be but they’re still on-board.”

Veteran Hughes will definitely miss the Galway game while Ryan O’Toole is a doubt with the arm he injured and cradled while making his way off against Meath. There is hope that captain Duffy could make it while O’Connell has half a chance of featuring at Pearse Stadium, when he really shouldn’t have.

“He heals exceptionally quick,” said Corey of O’Connell. “I’d say for another player, he’d be out for a few weeks but I wouldn’t write him off, he’s just that sort of freak.”

If Monaghan can pull it off and beat Galway, it would be up there among their most notable achievements. The feeling was that the tiny county shopping in the big-brand stores on a shoestring budget for the last decade had finally hit its credit limit with relegation this year.

“You get bad times and good times,” said Corey with a shrug. “When the bad times happen, you have to dig in and stick at it. The more times you do that over a period of five, six, seven years, then you have a team. If your team is changing all the time because you’re hitting hard times and boys are out and they’re in, you build nothing.”

There will be change though, whether Corey likes it or not. McManus has already stated this is likely to be his last season as a county player while Hughes and O’Connell, also in their mid-30s and with injury issues, could well follow suit. Could Beggan be an NFL player by 2025 too? Perhaps. One last hurrah then.

“There is a transition happening, there’s no point saying there’s not,” acknowledged Corey, doubling back to his point about the strength of the 26 and his faith in the entire group to drive things on. “We were down a right bit of experience there against Meath, when you look at those boys not involved. Even from the defence last year you only had half of those defenders. It’s tough but it’s an opportunity for boys to step up, and we need them to step up. Let’s see what this weekend brings, we’ll be stepping up against tougher opposition.”