GAA Football

Homework pays off as Rioghan Meehan helps St Ronan's to MacRory Cup glory

Rioghan Meehan (12) does his homework before big games to ward off pre-match nerves
Andy Watters

WITH the man of the match trophy tucked securely into his chest, MacRory Cup winner Rioghan Meehan explained his remedy for pre-match nerves – doing his homework.

The Clann Eireann half-forward says studying takes his mind off big games and he was certainly top of the class on Monday as he drove his school, St Ronan’s, Lurgan, to a two-point victory over defending champions and pre-game favourites St Mary’s Magherafelt,.

Meehan stroked over with crucial three second half point and he will be hitting the books again this weekend and early next week because St Ronan’s now face Munster champions PS Chorca Dhuibhne in the Hogan Cup semi-final in Abbottstown, Dublin next Wednesday (March 28).

“I do more homework coming up to games than I do any other time,” Meehan said with a laugh after St Ronan’s had carved out a 1-9 to 1-7 victory at the Athletic Grounds.

“I just try to keep myself busy that way and not think about it up to the match. Then, when you go out on the field, it’s all guns blazing so I’m just ready.”

St Ronan’s enjoyed a dream start to their first MacRory Cup final and had 1-1 on the board before St Mary’s scored. However, they trailed by a point at the break but Meehan sent them on the way to their first ever MacRory triumph with the equalizer in the opening seconds of the second half.

All three of his points came from the right flank and he made light of the stiff cross-field breeze that made shooting from distance difficult.

“We’re playing football every day these days and you know what distance you can kick from,” he explained.

“I kicked into the wind and used it to my advantage.”

He added: “The way I play the game, I just like to get on the ball a lot.

“But we had 15 unreal footballers out there and any man on the ball would have done the job. If I didn’t do the business, somebody else would have and it doesn’t matter who does it.

“Being part of the squad means everything but I suppose getting this award (man of the match) adds a bit. Winning the MacRory Cup is special, I can’t believe it.”

Clann Eireann clubman Meehan has now set his sights on his “dream” of lining out for Armagh at senior level.

“Hopefully, going forward, I’ll work towards the senior team,” he said.

“It’s every young fella’s dream to play for his county. Why would I be any different?”

On Monday’s evidence, Meehan looks to have the skillset to play inter-county football at senior level and if he does make the breakthrough he’ll follow in the footsteps of St Ronan’s manager David Wilson. Meehan paid tribute to the work of the management team - Wilson, Mickey Donnelly and Colm Fegan.

“See those lads… I’ve never met anyone like them,” he said.

“How they’ve treated us all year, the way they’ve got us sponsorships, they’ve work hard on our organisation.”

He added with a laugh: “They’re probably doing more for us than they are for the school. It’s unbelievable – they’re a credit to themselves and their families and they’re a credit to the school as well.”

Ulster Championship winner Wilson and his management team will come up against Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice next Wednesday. Fitzmaurice is also manager of Dingle’s PS Chorca Dhuibhne.

“Me and Mickey Donnelly and Colm Fegan are all equal in this and we’re all working hard together,” said Wilson after Monday’s win.

He added: “The lads are a pleasure to work with.

“In general, every year the school lads are a pleasure to work with because they love football and they love getting out and training. It’s just about managing what way you want them to play.

“They just love being together, they’re together from nine in the morning to five/five-thirty in the evening so they’re almost like brothers.”

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