GAA Football

Shane McGuigan: 'Seeing the people we play with every day plays a huge part for the team as you want to do well for your friends and team-mates'

Ahead of today's Sigerson Cup semi-final clash with reigning champions UCD, we spoke with Derry and St Mary's scoring ace Shane McGuigan to find out how the team is preparing and the Ranch have managed to put county rivalries aside for the greater good...

Slaughtneil and Derry forward Shane McGuigan will lead the line for St Mary's University College against UCD this afternoon. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

What has the atmosphere been like around St Mary’s this week ahead of the game?

It’s actually been quite relaxed. Everyone is feeling fresh and we have no injuries which is a plus at this stage of the competition. Everyone knows what the opposition is like and knows we will be going in as massive underdogs. We’ve been playing with no pressure on ourselves up until now so Saturday’s game will be no different.

One of the unique things about the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup is seeing old county rivalries put to one side for the sake of the college. What do you think is the most important element in fostering relationships among players from different counties to build a strong team?

Building that camaraderie within a college team is something hard to do as you might only meet up a few times throughout the week once training finally gets going. However, when everyone pulls on the same jersey the county rivalries are put aside as we all share a common goal and desire to do well for our team.

What does your morning look like ahead of the match and does it differ at all compared to a game with Derry or Slaughtneil?

We will be travelling down the night before, so a sleep after the long way down to Cork will be something I will be looking forward to. Nothing else really changes come match day. I’ll get my breakfast and do my personal stretches. Every team you play for you should have the same commitment and drive so when I play for St Mary’s I play with the same hunger as I would for any team I play for.

St Mary’s has consistently performed well in the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup despite having significantly fewer students than other colleges. What, in your eyes, are the key ingredients behind the competitiveness of the Ranch?

It is perhaps the fewer number of students that makes us so able to compete so well year in, year out. We are all friends so having a good relationship among players is something we don’t need to work on.

Seeing the people we play with every day plays a huge part for the team as you want to do well for your friends and team-mates. Other than that, we have a great management team mixed with people who want to work hard and sometimes that’s all you can ask for.

This year the Electric Ireland GAA Rising Star awards will recognise the skill and commitment displayed in the Higher Education championships by selecting a football and hurling team of the year. What do you think of the new initiative?

The awards promote the sport and highlight the commitment from lads involved, which is great. These things won’t be playing on individuals’ minds during the competition but it is a positive thing for players to be duly recognised for their contributions at the end of any campaign.

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