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Atkinson hopeful Monaghan can return to the top table

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Ten years on from a whirlwind debut campaign in the white and blue of the Farney County, Muireann Atkinson is hopeful that brighter days are on the horizon for Monaghan.Brought onto the panel at the tender age of 16 by then manager Gregory McGonigle (who had been impressed by a display she gave at club level with O'Neill Shamrocks), Atkinson was included amongst the Monaghan substitutes for their agonising 1-10 to 1-09 All-Ireland final defeat to Cork in 2013.Having watched stalwarts like Therese McNally, Sharon Courtney and Ciara McAnespie also bring the Leesiders down to the wire before losing out on a scoreline of 2-7 to 0-11 in the 2011 showpiece at the same venue, Atkinson was now rubbing shoulders with them just two years later.Their three-decades long stint in the senior championship may have come to an end with a relegation play-off loss to Waterford last July, but Atkinson believes Monaghan are capable of re-emerging as a leading powerhouse in the future."It was a great experience, it was a great environment to go into.

The team was obviously at their peak at that point. It was great to get into it. I came into an All-Ireland final thinking that would happen every year, but that wasn’t the case," Atkinson remembers of that breakthrough season."Definitely going into a high performing environment like that and competing at such a level probably whetted my appetite for competing and for playing for Monaghan."Maybe that’s why I’m still here today.

I’m still longing to get back to that level of performance and that level of competition, which some day, I think Monaghan will."The underage coming up is in a good place and they're competing well.

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