ELECTRIC IRELAND Sigerson Cup quarter-final
UCD v St Mary’s
Sunday, 2pm, Belfield
IT’D be stretching things to say they harbour a siege mentality, but St Mary’s player Rory Burns says they embrace the fact that expectations are fairly low outside the confines of the college itself.
Despite the fact they won the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup in 2018, and reached last year’s final, Burns detects that the wider world hasn’t quite got the hint that St Mary’s aren’t just there to make up the numbers in this season’s competition.
The Ranch earned a surprisingly comfortable win over Maynooth in the first round, and are bidding to defeat UCD, a college with 30,000 students, for the third time in four years in this Sunday’s quarter-final.
“No matter where we go we’re underdogs and that’s the way we like it. People were saying we’d do well to defeat Maynooth and it sort of fuels your fire. I was thinking we’re just not going there to make the numbers up. We’re beating colleges with thousands of students, we turned over Queen’s in the Ryan Cup as well, but people still have that attitude towards us.”
Burns has returned to college life at the ripe old of 25. He dropped out a few years back after doing his cruciate, and is delighted to get another shot at Sigerson glory even though he’s also juggling intercounty commitments at the moment.
The Down goalkeeper says that Paddy Tally has pressed home to his college players that they should prioritise the Sigerson Cup above all else at the moment.
“Paddy’s been great. He says when we’re with St Mary’s we’re with St Mary’s and when we’re with Down we’re with Down, and it’s been the same with the lads who play for Queen’s.
“He told us last week in training and things are going to be hectic so that if you’ve any problems just say so. He’s looking after us very well to be honest.
“It’s been hectic and there’s no point in saying otherwise. I’m going from Belfast to Newry and I’m basically passing my family on the road so to speak. It’s been mad but you wouldn’t do it if you weren’t enjoying it.
“St Mary’s is unique, you’re with your peers every day so you form a connection with them. I’m only back at the college and it’s like I’ve never been away. People are so friendly. Obviously I’m a bit older so it’s easier for me to bond with the older players on the squad.”
St Mary’s memorably defeated a star-studded UCD side in the 2017 final, and sprung another upset when they overcome the Dublin side in last year’s semi-final. Burns doesn’t think they have a hex over UCD, however.
“UCD is a totally different team this year, but in saying that we haven’t looked any further than Maynooth. We’re doing a bit of work on UCD tonight (Tuesday). They beat Jordanstown so they’re obviously no bad team but we’re just concentrating on ourselves.”