Rory Beggan is looking forward to Monaghan’s Ulster Senior Football Championship bow this weekend when they take on Cavan at Kingspan Breffni Park
The two neighbouring counties lock horns on Saturday evening in their Ulster quarter-final with Beggan describing Cavan as their ‘tastiest’ rivals.
“Yeah, it’s probably the tastiest rivalry we would have. A lot of people would work in Cavan, a lot of people would have family in Cavan, some people would have gone to school in Cavan.
“So there’s always that wee bit of rivalry. It’s been going on for a long time, you know, you’re just trying to keep that up,” Beggan told Pundit Arena.
Beggan spoke of the unique buzz that comes with playing in the Ulster Championship games, especially when your opponents are a long-standing rival such as Cavan.
He’s adamant, however, that Monaghan won’t be looking beyond the Breffni men despite their relegation from Division 1 in March as the Farney County have been caught out in the last two Ulster campaigns against Fermanagh and Down, respectively.
“The Ulster Championship always has its own unique buzz, and for us going into Breffni Park, a local rivalry, it’s great for us. We love the heat of Ulster Championship,” Beggan said.
“It might be different in other counties, but for us, whoever you’re drawn against there’s no looking past it to the next game.
“For us, Cavan is going to be a hugely tough game. They played Division 1 football this year, albeit being relegated, but I don’t think that’s going to have any bearing on the championship. It never does, the league never has any real bearing on the Ulster Championship.
“You saw last year Fermanagh getting to an Ulster final and a couple of years before that Down getting to an Ulster final.
“Any team on their day can pip any team.”
The Scotstown man comes into the 2019 championship with raised expectations having been awarded a maiden All-Star following his performances for Monaghan in their run to the final four in 2018.
Beggan has played a huge role in the evolution of the goalkeeper’s position over the past few seasons transitioning from the stereotypical shot-stopping net-minder to an all-action fly-keeper who has cemented his role as somewhat of a quarterback for Monaghan.
It’s clear he has a serious grá for the position and is enjoying the increased limelight that goalkeepers are receiving for their forward-thinking style of play.
“Hugely, yeah. From big kicks down the middle to short kick-outs to medium kick-outs. To getting on the ball more and coming up to take frees. It’s changed hugely and it’s been an enjoyable change.
“I enjoy doing it all, I enjoy playing in goals. I think that’s huge for any young kid who wants to be a goalkeeper. There’s a lot more from them to do now, a lot more for them to get involved in and a lot more exposure for goalkeepers.
“You’re involved in starting attacks, stopping attacks, being an outlet at times and help in defence. You’re everywhere now, you’re not just standing there waiting for the ball to come in, standing there with your hands on your hips, you’re literally involved in everything.”
Monaghan have been on an upward trajectory over the past few seasons, however, they have lost some key games. Most notably last year’s All-Ireland semi-final as well as the previous two Ulster campaigns when many were tipping them to win the provincial competition outright.
Beggan feels that in spite of the ‘bumps and holes in the journey’, Monaghan can continue on that upward curve and it begins on Saturday evening against Cavan.
“There’s been bumps and holes in the journey that we’ve been on but most of the time it’s been on an upward curve for us and we want to continue to do that and that starts Saturday week against Cavan. Hopefully, we can continue that one and push the boat even further for ourselves.”
“We feel we are getting stronger and pushing forward as a team and that can only be good. We can take heart from last year but we have to park it as well and forget about it. We can take heart from some performances throughout the year and take it in for this Cavan game and try and better what they bring to it.