By Niall McCoy
ST Mary’s travel to Grangegorman on Tuesday evening to face Trinity University in their Sigerson Cup opener (7pm) and manager Gavin McGilly is hoping that the traditional club spirit of the Belfast teaching college shines through once again.
That has been evident in recent years, particularly in 2017 when McGilly coached the side to glory under the watchful eye of then manager Paddy Tally.
In recent times McGilly has stepped into the number one spot and with no competition in 2021, he is glad to be getting back into the action.
“Sigerson preparations have been disjointed to say the least,” said McGilly.
“It’s going to be a big test to go to TUD. Ciarán Archer, Luke Swan are both Dublin seniors and Cathal Hickey is with Meath, they’re their big players.
“It’s great that there is a competition at all for the lads, so we’ll be looking forward to it.”
The St Mary’s squad may be absent real marquee names, but there are enough fine players there to suggest that they can again be a difficult assignment for any side.
Down’s Charlie Smyth is there and it will be interesting to see what role he takes up with the side. With his club Mayobridge and the Down U-20s, Smyth took the sweeper-keeper role to new extremes and regularly found himself in midfield or supporting the attack.
Moy man Ryan Coleman recently scored two points for Tyrone in their charity match win over Armagh while defender James Diamond and attacker Cormac Murphy are two exciting prospects emerging from Derry.
Elsewhere in attack, Crossmaglen forward Cian McConville, who plays very similarly to how his father Jim did, is sure to be a livewire as is Clann Éireann’s Conor McConville whose confidence should be sky-high after their recent Armagh success. Michéal McCarville is also a player who knows all about winning as he is part of the dominant Scotstown panel that currently rules in Monaghan.
As well as Archer, Swan and Hickey, Trinity will be able to call on the services of a few Ulster men.
Cavan’s Liam Wilson, Patrick O’Reilly, Evan Fortune and Jack McKenna, Monaghan’s Eoin Duffy and Robbie McAllister and Donegal’s Donal Doherty are all involved.
A tough opener, but the Belfast side have always relished being written off in this competition.