Ulster's University Freshers squads
Last year’s All-Ireland Freshers champions QUB will attempt to defend their crown equipped with a host of county minor and u-21 stars.
Kilrea’s Dermot McWilliams and Ryan Farren of Lavey will have a key role to play, while Portglenone pair Niall Delargy and Dermot McAleese as well as their Antrim colleague Joe Scullion (Glenravel) will also be to the forefront of manager Bernie Murray’s plans.
Michael Monan and Ryan Kelly are also key figures, while Che Cullen of the Rock, who lined out for Dungannon Academy in MacRory action last year, is one of a number of players from the Red Hand county who are part of the QUB side. They include Tyrone minor trio Mark McAleer (Rock), Sean Paul Quinn (Moortown) and Owen Roes goalkeeper Ryan McShane.
Both Stephen Nolan and Ruairi Doherty have come onboard having reached the MacRory Cup final with St Michael’s Enniskillen last year, while Stephen Monaghan, John Mason and Brendan Rodgers come via St Colman’s Newry, with neighbours Abbey supplying James Murdock, Rory McShane and Eoin Donnelly.
The Malone Road outfit set out their intentions early by laying claim to the Ulster Third Level Sevens title at Cookstown last week, providing them with an extremely timely confidence boost before they start their All-Ireland tilt.
Once again, UUJ bring a very strong Freshers squad to the table, under the guidance of new managerial recruit Cathal Corey. It is a side laced with experience at all inter-county levels who will hope to get the Shore Road outfit back to the top of the heap.
Martin Johnston was centre-back for Antrim over the course of the season gone by, while goalkeeper Tiernan Hughes was also part of Liam Bradley’s senior set-up 2010. Down’s Conor Gough is another who has featured at senior inter-county level already, while their panel also boasts plenty of county u-21 experience.
There is a strong Red Hand flavour to the Jordanstown list. Johnny Munroe, Kiefer Morgan, Ryan Devlin, Ryan Mayse, Colm McCrory and Conor McAleer are all Tyrone u-21’s, while Caolan Harvey, Rory Brennan, Sean Molloy, Donal Maneely, Ruairi Mullan, Tommy McCarron and Anthony Devlin are all Red Hand minors, joined by sharpshooters Mark Bradley of Killyclogher and Clonoe’s Danny McNulty, as well as captain and full-back Padraig Hampsey of Coalisland.
Mark Blake was part of the Fermanagh u-21’s, while Ruairi Caughley was part of the Armagh set-up, joined by Killeavey midfielder Michael Murphy.
John Fitzgerald was a Donegal minor, while Liam O’Reilly lined out for the Cavan minor side. Derry are also well represented with Conor McAtamney of Swatragh, Anthony O’Neill, Niall Higgins and Martin McCluskey, while Ballinderry corner-back Gareth McKinless will also have a key role to play in proceedings in the months ahead.
With an impressive list of graduates from last year’ Freshers roster to take their place on the senior squad list, St Mary’s look set to once again more than hold their own at this level.
They have secured the services of a number of experienced campaigners, most notably Paddy McBride who moves on from St Mary’s CBS and was part of Liam Bradley’s Antrim senior squad in the season gone by. Ryan Johnston also gained plenty of experience from his MacRory Cup exploits with St Colman’s over the past two seasons and is sure to be a very influential figure in the Ranch side.
Also in the fold is Jack Grugan of Ballymacnab, younger brother of inter-county senior player Ruairi, who will lead the St Mary’s attack from the half-forward line. Rock’s Aidan McGarrity is another who the Falls Road side will look to for scores as they try to make an impression on the competition.
St Mary’s have gained two members of last year’s MacRory cup finalists St Michael’s Enniskillen, namely Owen Hamill and Thomas McCaffrey. Dungannon Academy graduate Harry Loughran from the Moy club is another sure to be an influential figure. Patrick McAleer has joined from St Mary’s Ballymena, while Crossmaglen player Mel Boyce makes his way to the college having completed his tenure at St Macartan’s Monaghan.