Just four years ago Owen Lennon was the man lifting the Anglo Celt trophy to end a 25 year wait for Monaghan. Now having retired at the end of 2015, Lennon is part of Malachy O’Rourke’s back room team. It tells you everything that you need to know about what O’Rourke thinks of Lennon that he made him captain in his first year in charge and has now elevated him to role of selector after just one year of retirement.
The Latton club man is enjoying the different role: “It is very enjoyable and good to be around the whole thing again,” he explained to the Impartial Reporter this week.
Lennon is expecting a tough fight when the Farney men clash with Fermanagh this Saturday night although the former midfielder conceded that there might be some fans in his native county who think the game is going to be straightforward: “You get that sometimes; the man on the street thinking that the game is going to be easy. To be fair the players don’t think that and never do. The team have been very good at getting ready for games and we know it is going to be a hell of a fight against Fermanagh.”
Lennon is full of praise of Pete McGrath’s men and believes that they will be very dangerous opponents for the highly fancied Monaghan.
“They are a good championship side. They have proved that and they will be very intense and they are always very, very fit. Just two years ago when we played them the game was very even up until they got a man sent off and then it swung towards Monaghan after that.”
The game Lennon refers to is the Ulster semi final where Ryan McCluskey was perhaps rather harshly shown a red card on 58 minutes. Three points separated the sides at that stage before Monaghan racked up some late scores to put some gloss on proceedings. Lennon was operating at midfield on that occasion so will have first hand knowledge of many of the Fermanagh players.
That win saw Monaghan qualify for their third final in succession and they have been operating in Division One for the past three seasons and have established themselves as one of the most consistent teams in the country. Lennon argues against reading too much into league success however and points to the first of Monaghan’s two recent Ulster titles as evidence for his argument.
“We did play well in Division One this year and got some good results but I always think Championship is just completely different. In 2013 we won the Ulster title having played in Division Three that year. So we know that league positions can mean nothing when it comes to Championship.”
Lennon speaks highly of Fermanagh native O’Rourke who is in his fifth year in charge in Monaghan now.
“I just think he is the complete package. He is obviously very well organised but he is also very good at dealing with people. He deals with the county board well and he deals with players well. He is very good at getting the best out of everyone around him.”
Monaghan will go into Saturday’s game as warm favourites and will have home advantage to boot and while they no doubt will have long term ambitions to play deep into the summer Lennon insists the only thing on their mind at present is the Fermanagh challenge.
“I think every team wants to be playing at the latter stages, that goes without saying but we have always been good at concentrating on the next game so that is all we have been thinking about and we know Fermanagh are going to bring a huge intensity so we have to be ready for that.”