Conor McManus never even made the Monaghan minor team 4 years ago

Conor McManus never even made the Monaghan minor team

Every county has their own tale of a late developer who bloomed into a household name.

Conor McManus is widely accepted as one of the best forwards in Ireland today but he couldn't make the Monaghan minor panel just 11 years ago.

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It's no secret that the Clontibret sharpshooter has completely transformed his body since he made the step up to county level back in 2007, the fierce full forward explained to The GAA Hour how much weight he had put on since he joined the squad a decade ago.

And, when Seamus McEnaney took him aboard the Farney senior setup, McManus had some personal setbacks to overcome from just a few months previous.

"When Conor McManus came into me, he came in as a 19-year-old young fella in 2007 with a right bit of conditioning to be done," Banty explained on The GAA Hour.

"Listen, he's a brilliant player.

"He came into me in 2007 and I played him at wing forward. He came on as a sub at wing forward in the Ulster semi-final.

"He actually didn't make the minor panel of 24 in 2006. I took him in in 2007 and he developed really well."

In the space of 12 months, McManus had forgotten the disappointment of not making a minor panel of 24 to coming on in an Ulster semi-final.

He's not the only one. Bernard Brogan spoke before on the agony of being overlooked by underage teams and how he always believed that someday it would happen.

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For McManus, he was fast-tracked into the senior side but his development to become what Seamus McEnaney calls the best forward in Ireland took a bit of time - especially considering he was being used at half back for a while.

"I was chatting to Adrian Flynn in training the other night," Banty told the story of one of his Wexford players recalling coming up against McManus.

"We played Wexford in 2009 in the National Football League and he remembers going down on the bus thinking, 'Conor McManus playing left half back, he's only a young fella, this is going to be a handy enough day for me.'

"Low and behold, he said it was the toughest day he ever had in his life. Conor McManus scored three points that day from left half back."

The Wexford People didn't enjoy that day.

Monaghan went on and won promotion to Division One that season and they nor their talisman have looked back.

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"The defensive systems were coming into place and I was trying to find away around it in 2009 and the way around it for me was to have two wing backs that could come up the field and score and break down the opposition and Conor McManus was one of them. 

"Not alone is he the best forward in Ireland, he's one of the most modest best forwards in Ireland.

"He's a brilliant young fella. They don't come any better."

Listen to the full Seamus McEnaney interview below from 39:17.