GAA Football

Ulster University's focus is purely on Sigerson Cup says John Farrell

Ryan McHugh was in fine form for Ulster University last weekend  
Gerry McLaughlin

THE Sigerson Cup hasn’t been brought back to Jordanstown since 2008 and everyone involved with this year’s Ulster University team are determined to end that wait. 

Given the multitude of talent that has consistently been available to UU management teams, the drought is far too long. The students saw off a strong challenge from a Donegal team made up of U21 players in Ballybofey in their McKenna Cup opener last Sunday, but they had to rely on the craft and opportunism of Ryan McHugh to notch a 4-13 to 2-20 win.

And while the Sigerson is very much the priority over the coming weeks, UU president John Farrell was delighted to get over the line: “It was a great game of football and just look at the scoreline,” he said.

“There was six goals in the match and we were just lucky to sneak it there in the end. But fair play to Donegal, they really played with great maturity for young men and played some really attractive football and have some physically imposing players.”

UU are the reigning Ryan Cup champions under Martin McHugh, and Farrell is hoping they kick on from there: “I know we are Ryan Cup champions but that counts for nothing in Sigerson as we know too well,” he said

“Of course we are looking towards Sigerson at this stage and a lot of our key men are away with their counties. We had exams yesterday and we have Ryan McAnespie, Kieran Hughes, Rory Brennan, Ronan McNamee, Paudie Hampsey, Stephen Sheridan, Ethan Rafferty, Eoin Donnelly and Thomas Clarke to come back to the panel. We also had Michael McAvoy, Terence O’Brien, Eoin McHugh and Niall McKeever out injured.

“This is a step in the right direction but the Sigerson is what it is really about. We have not won a Sigerson since 2008, it is a very difficult trophy to win. It is just like the All-Ireland and is a very difficult competition to win.”

For now, it is all about peaking for the biggest prize in university Gaelic football. And last Sunday’s narrow win with a somewhat depleted squad could be just the tonic for the students to keep building towards bringing back a trophy that means so much to the college.

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