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After scoring 1-21 on UCD's run to the Sigerson Cup, Monaghan's McCarthy set for bright summer

Conor McCarthy is enjoying a rich vein of form.

WHAT MADE MONAGHAN’s victory over Kerry on Sunday even more impressive was that they did so without Conor McCarthy.

The ace forward bagged 1-6 for UCD the previous day to win his second Sigerson Cup medal, but he wasn’t required by Malachy O’Rourke as his side enjoyed a third league win in four years over the Kingdom.

Conor McCarthy after scoring a goal Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

McCarthy has been on the inter-county scene for a couple of years, but it was his performance as a half-time substitute in Monaghan’s All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Dublin last August that made the country sit up and take notice of his talent.

The diminutive forward posted three fine points from play that afternoon and continued his good form in Scotstown’s run to the Monaghan SFC title, scoring 1-8 in a man-of-the-match final display in October.

Paul McArdle and Conor McCarthy Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

McCarthy was given a few weeks off before he linked up with John Divilly’s UCD squad after Christmas, with the Galway All-Ireland winner slotting McCarthy into the team as a play making centre-forward.

Over his four Sigerson Cup ties McCarthy posted 1-21, improving his scoring rate with each game and proving a reliable left-footed free-taker.

  • 0-4 (0-2f) vs Maynooth, round 1
  • 0-5 (0-4f) vs DCU, quarter-final
  • 0-6 (0-3f) vs University of Ulster, semi-final
  • 1-6 (0-3f) vs NUI Galway, final

After his latest man-of-the-match award on Saturday, McCarthy couldn’t hide his delight.

“Absolutely, you can’t disregard these individual awards, it does make it all that bit sweeter, there’s no point in lying about it,” he said.

“But the main thing is having that Sigerson Cup in the back pocket, that’s what makes it really sweet.

“It’s probably been the mantra of all Sigerson finals the last few years, they have been nip and tuck and this was no different. It could have swung either way with goals and a few chances they had, the one that came off the post at the end.

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“I think our resolve is what got us over the line in the end, you see Liam Casey popping up with two points, he soldiered the whole way through the game and got his just desserts in the end.”

Conor McCarthy with Tadgh O'Malley and Kieran Molloy McCarthy scores UCD's only goal of the game in their win over NUIG Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

With six games under his belt in the last four weeks, McCarthy’s workload will ease as Monaghan become his sole focus for the foreseeable future.

He played 160 minutes between the semi-final and final this week, and was wisely not asked to tog out for the county side on Sunday.

“I really enjoyed this week,” the final year mathematics student continued. “I’ve absolutely no complaints with playing these two games in a week.

“You’re nearly safer playing games than going out training and it’s more enjoyable especially when you’re winning.”

Conor McCarthy and Jonny Cooper McCarthy in action against Dublin last August. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

He scored 1-4 from corner-forward over his opening two Division 1 games, but Conor McManus’s reintroduction into the Monaghan team means McCarthy could see increased playing time at 11 over the coming months.

To give an indication of the high esteem McCarthy is held in, his former county minor and club manager Mattie McGleenan described him as “a Jamie Clarke type of player” 12 months ago.

In McCarthy, McManus and Jack McCarron, Monaghan have three genuine scoring threats in their attack, which bodes well for the summer.

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Kevin O'Brien

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