Hurling & Camogie

Sean Corrigan chasing third Lory Meagher title with Fermanagh hurlers

The Ernemen face Longford in Sunday’s final

Sean Corrigan (right)
Seán Corrigan of Fermanagh (right) goes for a third Lory Meagher Cup winners' medal on Sunday. Picture: Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile (Michael P Ryan / SPORTSFILE/SPORTSFILE)

An ounce of breeding is worth a ton of feeding. Fermanagh’s gifted but extremely modest corner-forward Sean Corrigan has pedigree in spades.

His uncle, Benny Corrigan, was one of the county’s most elegant players and the stick was an extension of his arm in those 1970s and 80s summers for Lisbellaw and Fermanagh

His father, Kevin, and another uncle, Aidy, and also wore the Erne county jersey for many years, so it was inevitable that Sean and his younger brother Ciaran would also don it.

Belfast-based accountant Sean (33) has just come back into the squad after a spell travelling, but has lost none of that great first touch and deadly accurate finishing from play this season.

On Sunday at Croke Park, he goes for his third Lory Meagher Cup winners’ medal along with team-mates John Duffy, John Paul McGarry, Ryan Bogue and Danny Teague when the Ernemen take on Longford.

“I don’t remember seeing my father or uncles play, but I just knew there was a great tradition of hurling in the family,’’ says Corrigan.

“I was raised with a hurl in my hand and I remember John Duffy and I playing with plastic hurls in the yard in Tattygar Primary School and moving up to U8s and U10s in Cavanacarragh Hall under Benny McManus.

“Benny McManus would have brought 80 per cent of this panel through the ranks and has given a lifetime of service to Lisbellaw and Fermanagh hurling and it is a credit to him.

“He just does it all in the background and does not want the attention or limelight.

“But without him, I would not be the player I am, and I would say that most of the boys would say the same.”

Sean won his first county championship with Lisbellaw in 2007, when he was 16.

The ‘Law went on to win six more titles and now hold a record 31 Fermanagh county titles.

“It’s a shame that there is no senior hurling championship in Fermanagh anymore,’’ says Corrigan.

“I am a Lisbellaw man, but the first time Lisbellaw is beaten in a Fermanagh county final I will still be happy as it will show that Fermanagh club hurling is in a much better place.

“I remember Enniskillen having a good team in my youth and I played with QUB a bit.”

Sean’s younger brother Ciaran, was also on the Fermanagh football panel, but is currently travelling.

“He is five years younger than me but there was great rivalry with us in the hurling growing up.

“I am sure it was the same with the Duffys and the McGarrys and all these other hurling families.

“LIsbellaw have a very proud tradition and I have always played with them apart from a few years in Vancouver, where the standard was brilliant with hurlers from all over Ireland. It brought my game on a good bit.”

Corrigan has been very accurate from play in this season’s Championship and is pleased to be going for his third Lory Meagher medal.

“Yes, it would be great, but it will only mean something if we win it. We have lost a few finals in my time, and you lose more than you win.

“It is not so much even about winning the Lory Meagher, it’s more about getting back up to the Nickey Rackard Cup.

“We had 10 games in the higher level last year and we lost seven of them by one score so the driving force is to get back to that level and turn those defeats into victories.”

When asked about Fermanagh’s slow start against Longford, a game from which they salvaged a draw, last day out, Corrigan said:

“It is not the best way to go at half-time nine or 10 points down and that is the second time we have done that, and our full focus will be on trying to start better. You will not always be able to overhaul the defecit.

“You would rather the opposite where you build up a lead instead.”

So will Croke Park suit Fermanagh’s style of play?

“You would think so, especially if it’s dry. It is a long and wide pitch as well.

“We have a great forward line and the competition for places is savage. John Paul McGarry, Danny Teague and Cahir McManus, who is an extremely big talent, all came on and made a big difference for us.

“I am looking over my shoulder all the time, but it is a squad game now and you don’t win anything with just 15 players these days.

“Other players like Ronan McGurn and Thomas Burns are also driving the standards in training.”

One thing Fermanagh do not lack is passion and commitment, making them a mirror image of team manager Joe Baldwin.

“It is great to have the boys from Belleek, Belnaleck, Kinawley and Roslea involved as it gives it more of a county feel.”

Corrigan is currently living in Belfast and makes the trip home three times a week.

“I know myself that I am in the twilight of my career, but it would be great to have Ciaran back.

“But you have to travel and broaden your horizons and you get plenty of GAA there as well so you are not going away from the game.”

Corrigan admits that the current crop of hurlers are the most skilful to ever represent the county.

“I watch a lot of hurling all over Ulster and Ireland and the likes of Luca McCusker and Caolan Duffy could perform on any team in Ulster.

“And Brian Teehan brings a freshness and great pace to the panel and we are happy to have him.”

When asked what another Lory Meagher medal would mean to him, he said: “It would be great, but it is more about getting back up to the Nickey Rackard level as it is what the boys deserve.”

He would not say, but Sean Corrigan deserves it too.