ELECTRIC IRELAND Sigerson Cup quarter-final
DCU v Queen’s University Belfast
Saturday, 2pm, Dublin City University Sportsgrounds
GAA President John Horan made some eye-raising comments at the weekend that the fixtures logjam blighting our games is effectively unsolvable, comments which didn’t escape the attention of QUB manager Conor Deegan.
Deegan is currently preparing Queen’s for this weekend’s quarter-final clash against DCU, and he’s also boss of the Down U20 team which is presently participating in the Leo Murphy Cup competition.
Then you have the McKenna Cup and the upcoming Allianz National League, so it’s fair to say that January isn’t a quiet time in the life of an intercounty footballer.
Deegan feels their pain, and unlike the President of our great association,thinks that the whole fixtures issue is totally solvable.
“The problem is that fixtures have been rammed into a short time-slot and it’s made it very difficult. Players are being pulled left, right and centre as a result.
“They want to play, but the problem is how do they balancing studying, county football, and colleges football. “The thing that everyone seems to forget is the studying in the middle of this.
“In my day the Sigerson Cup was played over a weekend and there were national league matches prior to Christmas. It wasn’t perfect but it gave us a bit of freedom and it was nowhere near as bad as the situation we find ourselves in now.
“John Horan isn’t looking at the bigger picture in all this. To me Sigerson football has to be be prioritised. If you speak to anyone with that experience of playing in this competition. People who played together 30 years ago are still meeting for a pint, it’s incredibly important. I definitely don’t think the association is covering itself in glory at the moment.
“We may be amateurs but the people at the top end aren’t. It’ll come to a head and we’re already at critical mass. We have to do something or the game will starting eating itself.”
Queen’s ended their four-game drought in the Sigerson Cup with their round-one victory over TU Dublin City campus, who could call upon the likes of Dublin’s Brian Howard and Monaghan’s Conor McCarthy. It was a relief, but Deegan notes that the atmosphere was great in the camp even before their 1-14 to 1-8 victory. Now they take on heavy-hitters DCU for a place in the semi-finals.
“I don’t think the spirits any different, there’s a good bond between them. We were glad to win but we’ve kept everything on a fairly even keel. the boys played well and showed a bit of character and got a good result so we’d be happy with that.
“DCU will be a massive challenge, they were up against Garda college on their last day out and getting over the line int the first game can be difficult.
“DCU have been powerhouses over the last few years and they’ll be strong favourites over ourselves but we’ll go down and do our best. As Paidi O Se used to say, ‘sure we’ll give it a go.’”