GAA Football

Queen's boss Shane Mulholland hits out at Sigerson Cup 'fixtures farce'

Queen's manager Shane Mulholland must rally his troops for the visit of NUI Galway, three days after a slender defeat to Maynooth
John Martin

Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup round two: Queen’s University, Belfast v NUI Galway (Wednesday, the Dub Arena, 7pm)

QUEEN'S boss Shane Mulholland has hit out at the “farcical” nature of this year’s Sigerson Cup schedule, which he says is putting players in an impossible position.

Mulholland’s side lost out to NUI Maynooth on Sunday at the Dub by a single point in a hard-fought battle, which ended 0-9 to 0-8 in favour of the Kildare-based students.

Now, the Belfast side must beat NUI Galway tonight and Garda College next week to secure a quarter-final berth against Ulster University.

The Galway game comes just 72 hours after the Sigerson opener and four days before the start of the Allianz Football League.

“That’s the farcical nature of a Sigerson campaign,’’ says the former Down star.

‘‘Why the back door? Why is it on the verge of the League? There’s a problem with the scheduling of it. This whole competition should be run off in November/December just after the Ryan Cup.

“There’s just too many overlaps. Those boys are on county panels and they are key parts of county panels. If we want to train Tuesday or Thursday, you’ve a (county) manager saying ‘no I want him with me that day’.

“What do these boys do? They are at the behest of a management team saying ‘you’re not playing in a National League game’ so it’s difficult. It’s not the players’ fault but we should be big enough as an organisation to take that out of their hands.”

If Queen’s get past NUI Galway tonight at the Dub, they will face Garda College next Wednesday with a potential Ulster derby with UU the following week.

Against Maynooth, an organised Queen’s defence were content to soak up pressure and hit their visitors on the break, however they fell short by the minimum and now face a Galway side that lost out to St Mary’s UC on penalties.

“All we can do is learn from our mistakes and move on to the next day,’’ says Mulholland.

‘‘I said to the boys about three months ago that we are going to be underdogs in every game we play, whether it’s league, McKenna Cup, Sigerson

‘‘But I wanted that to be part of our identity, that we knew we had to dig in and knew we were going to be hard to beat and work hard and outwork teams,” said Mulholland.

Despite trailing by three twice in the second half, Queen’s fought back to close the gap, with Niall Keenan’s injury-time score putting the minimum between the sides.

The Derry defender insists that the defeat hasn’t knocked his side’s confidence ahead of tonight’s game.

“We had a tough McKenna Cup but that was a better performance, we just didn’t get the rub of the green,” said Keenan.

“We knew we were in it the whole game. It was a case of grinding it out for both teams.

‘‘NUIG were favourites against St Mary’s and they put it up to them. The sort of football St Mary’s play, they grind it out and that’s what we need to be doing. We did it against Maynooth but just didn’t get the right side of it.”

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