Northern Ireland news

Belfast university with 10 graduates on Tyrone team sends good luck wishes to panel ahead of All Ireland final

Graduates of St Mary's University College who are members of the Tyrone team include (back row l-r) Joe McMahon, Niall Morgan, Conn Kilpatrick, Darragh McAnenly, Cathal McShane and (front row l-r) Niall Sludden, Liam Rafferty, Conor Meyler, Kieran McGeary, and Peter Harte
Marie Louise McConville

A Belfast university has sent good luck wishes to Tyrone ahead of this weekend's All-Ireland clash - with 10 of its graduates on the team.

Staff and students from St Mary's University College, which is based on the Falls Road in west Belfast, will be glued to Saturday's match at Croke Park to cheer on Niall Morgan, Conn Kilpatrick, Darragh McAnenly, Cathal McShane, Niall Sludden, Liam Rafferty, Conor Meyler, Kieran McGeary, Peter Harte, who all play for Tyrone.

In addition, Joe McMahon, a member of the team's back room staff, is also a graduate of the university.

Principal Peter Finn said the institution was "very proud of the many students and graduates of St Mary’s who have excelled at the highest level in gaelic games down the years.

"This weekend we will be watching out for them again in both camogie and football," he said.

Mr Finn said the university has a "long tradition of gaelic games at St Mary’s and St Joseph’s which is part of our history.

"We know that camogie was being played at the college in the 1930s," he said.

"Gaelic football for men started in the late 1940s, hurling in the 1960s and ladies’ football in more recent years, starting up in the late 1980s.

"We believe that team sports, in whatever code, can play a very positive role in the formation of university or college students. There is the obvious benefit of health-related physical fitness but also values such as resilience, teamwork and comradeship.

"There is no doubt that learning through sport transfers into the world of work".

The principal said St Mary’s teams in gaelic games "have a reputation for being well drilled and hard to beat.

"Being one of the smallest third level institutions competing in All-Ireland gaelic games competitions, the students have to maximise whatever playing resources are available to them," he said.

"That leads to a high level of team spirit and togetherness. By deign there are no scholarship players at St Mary’s - all players are equal.

Mr Finn said this year was special as "so many of our students or graduates involved in All-Ireland finals in camogie, ladies football and mens football.

"In the case of the Tyrone senior football squad, there are nine former students involved and also Joe McMahon is an important member of the backroom team," he said.

"Most of the them are graduates of either Teacher Education with Physical Education or Liberal Arts with Physical Education degree programmes.

"Niall Sludden is the exception as he took Religious Studies and also has a Master of Education degree from the College.

"We wish our sportsmen and sportswomen in camogie and football all the best of luck at the weekend in their All-Ireland finals".

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