GAA Football

The work begins here for St Michael's, Enniskillen

St Michael's, Enniskillen have a rich recent history at MacRory Cup level and while they go into this season's competition with a young squad, manager Dominic Corrigan is demanding high standards and a competitive mindset, as he told Colm Bradley...

The St Michael’s, Enniskillen MacRory Cup panel are, back row (l-r): Paul Doherty, Rory McGarrigle, Darragh McGurn, Colin Copeland, Éamon Drumm, Emmett McElhill, Darragh Ó Caitheann, Jack Keane, Connor McGee, Michael Óg McGarrigle; Middle row (l-r): Gareth Deery, Matthew McAloon, Ben McCann, Colm Keown, Darragh McQuaid, Nathan Tierney, Shane McGullion, Connor Cameron, Liam Owens, Paul Breen; Front row (l-r): Nathan Jones, Conal Quinn, Timmy Boyd, Matt Conlon, Colm Jones, Rory McCaffrey (captain), James McCaffrey, Conal McCann, Lorcan McStravick, Ryan Flanagan; Not in the picture are Tiarnán Bogue, Tiarnach O’Caithain, Odhran O’Brien, Liam Owens, Bruce Worley, Joseph Worley 

THE work has already started up on the hill, with 36 players currently on the St Michael’s, Enniskillen provisional MacRory Cup squad for the season ahead.

As ever, manager Dominic Corrigan has been impressed with the endeavour shown in the formative weeks of the campaign.

“I like to think all St Michael’s teams work hard,” said Corrigan. 

“The boys certainly know that is the first requirement before you pull on the jersey and they have been training well so far."

Yet, given former Fermanagh manager Corrigan’s experience, he will be well aware his team face a huge task to win the MacRory Cup on St Patrick’s Day next year. 

Of that 36-man panel, 23 are Year 13 students, yet while Corrigan knows the benefits of this season might truly be felt next term, he also holds high expectations for this campaign. 

“Yes, there are quite a few Year 13 students on the panel and of course they will be the better for their experiences this season but that’s not to say that we are already looking to next year,” he said.

“We aim to be highly competitive in every game that we play this year and see where that takes us.”

With six teams in each of the two MacRory Cup groups, the top two from each section will automatically go through to the quarter-finals. 

St Michael’s find themselves in the same group as two of the tournament favourites in St Patrick’s, Maghera and St Patrick’s, Dungannon. Rory McCaffrey and Colm Jones will lead the team this year as captain and vice-captain respectively, and they will be important figures, while Eoghan Curran is another player Corrigan will be relying on to produce his best if his side are to spring a few surprises along the way. 

Of the Year 13 pool, Lorcan McStravick and Michael Og McGarrigle will certainly add a lot to the equation and they are both very talented footballers with an eye for a score.

Corrigan has been in charge of the MacRory Cup squad since 1999. During that time he has guided his side to the title on four occasions – 1999, 2001, when it was shared with Omagh due to foot and mouth) 2002 and most recently in 2012. So there is plenty of inspiration on the walls of St Michael’s for the present group of players, but Corrigan is keen to stress the work and the effort that went into things in each of the years that the trophy was not won.

“Of course you want to win the MacRory but the fact is that you are not going to have a strong enough group to do that every year,” he said.

“But it is still vitally important that every player puts his all into being the best player that he can be. And that is what we pride ourselves on here in St Michael’s. Regardless of whether we win the MacRory or not, we want to make sure that every player has the opportunity to get better. 

“I look at players from those years that we did not win and it gives great satisfaction to see what those players have went on and achieved with their clubs, their universities and their county.”

It is accepted within Fermanagh that in terms of underage football, other counties have stolen a march in preparation and development. Erne county teams have suffered some chastening defeats in recent years and there is no indication that the situation will change any time soon. 

There is also real concern that the coaching that players receive outside of their school environment is leaving players from other colleges well ahead when they pull on their school jersey.

Corrigan has always been a firm believer that his St Michael’s players are as good as anyone in Ulster and he believes recent moves by the Fermanagh County Board will bring benefit to all down the line.

“I have always said that my players have the same potential and also the same willingness to work hard as any other player in any other school,” he said.

“I hope the recent coaching review carried out by the county board will give our young players the best opportunity to fulfil their potential. If it does, it will benefit every school in the county.”

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