SIGERSON CUP ROUND ONE
ST MARY’S V MAYNOOTH
Sunday, Maynooth, 2pm
ST Mary’s boss Gavin McGilly admits that he isn’t sure whether he’ll have access to his county players in Sunday’s Round One clash against Maynooth.
The preliminary team lists name a number of county players in their ranks, including Armagh’s Oisin O’Neill (who was part of the team when they memorably won the Sigerson Cup three years ago) and Conn Kilpatrick, who made a starring debut for Tyrone in their McKenna Cup win over Cavan.
There are a bunch of U20 players in their ranks as well, and with their league competitions going on at the minute, as well as McKenna Cup matches pencilled in for this weekend, it’s unclear what sort of team St Mary’s will field against Maynooth.
McGilly said: “From our point of view, we don’t currently know where we sit. It’s hard to know with the McKenna Cup.
“We’re not in a position to say who’ll be available because the fixtures will determine that.
“To stand any chance in the Sigerson Cup, you need all your players available and that goes for all the colleges. You can see how this issue has been created, every manager wants their players.
“In the past I think county managers were possibly more keen for players to play for their colleges, and even would have encouraged them. I think the fact it’s been pushed into the weekend has created the collision.”
Therefore it’ll come as no major surprise that McGilly, who led St Mary’s to last year’s final where they were beaten by UCC, is unhappy with the fixture reshuffle which will see the Sigerson Cup played off before the end of January.
He said: “To be honest we found that the system worked well in the past, where the matches were midweek. It seemed to work better as there was less on than on weekends. Now everything seems to be squeezed into the weekend and it makes things very tight.”
As mentioned, St Mary’s embarked on another impressive Sigerson Cup run last season, overcoming a starstudded UCD side en route to making the final, where they were beaten by UCC by 0-16 to 1-9. Barring any late changes to the panel, St Mary’s will be able to call upon a number of players who were involved last year, including Liam Rafferty, who starred for Tyrone side Galbally last season, Dromore man Ryan McCusker, Down’s Liam Devlin, and the Moy’s Ryan Coleman, who was one of their key players in their run to the All-Ireland Intermediate title a few years back.
Watch out also for Cian Mc- Conville, who was excellent for Crossmaglen last season. It’ll be disappointing if St Mary’s don’t have a decent campaign at the very least, but McGilly says it’s hard to compare teams from one year to the next.
“You can only take each year on its own merits, we’ve definitely had a couple of brilliant years and your objective is always to go as far as you possibly can in the competition.
“We had a good tussle with Maynooth last year in the quarter-final of the Sigerson, there was nothing between us then, and there’s also the fact we have to go to Maynooth so we’re looking no further than Sunday.
“It’ll be a good tussle and we’ll just have to give a mighty effort to get over this one and that’s all the focus.”
McGilly also said that St Mary’s had a promising Ryan Cup campaign (the colleges’ pre-season competition), and he also said that the excitement at the Ranch is palpable at the moment.
“We were in the Ryan cup before Christmas, and we’d two good enough results. We lost to Jordanstown the first day and then beat Queen’s and Letterkenny.
“We got a good look at all the players and we selected a Sigerson panel from that.
“The Sigerson Cup is what it’s all about in university sport. It’s the week where there’s a great buzz around the college and there’s lots of talk about the game and that’s the way it should be.”