Sigerson Cup: St Mary's go into battle against DCU
Sigerson Cup round 2A: St Mary's University College v DCU Dóchas Éireann (today, Davitt's, 2pm)
ST MARY'S may have been buzzing after last week's win in the capital over Trinity, but manager Gavin McGilly says any sense of elation was quickly tempered by the prospect of facing today's opponents.
The students from the Falls Road finished their Sigerson Cup first round clash with a flourish to defeat TU Dublin City Campus by four points in Grangegorman last Wednesday, with their never say die attitude again on display.
Darragh Campion's goal had edged the home team in front, but St Mary's responded in stylish fashion, with Paddy Quigg's goal and Crossmaglen man Cian McConville's scores in the dying embers guiding them to a hard earned win.
Their reward for that victory is a round 2A meeting with Ryan Cup champions DCU at Davitt's this afternoon. The Dubliners, managed by former Allstar Paddy Christie, are laced with talent throughout their panel, which includes a large contingent of Ulster men. Glenfin corner-back Ross Ó Mearlaigh is one of eight northerners in the squad, including fellow Donegal men Oisín Gallen, Brendan Diver, Jamie Grant, Shane O'Donnell, Séamus Byrne, and Mark Curran and Cavan's Caoimhín O'Reilly.
“There was a great buzz among the lads after last week's victory, but those feelings quickly subsided as the realisation set in that we'd be coming up against DCU this week,” said McGilly.
“We know it's going to be a step up, they have established county players from 1 to 15 in their side and no one really touched them in the Ryan Cup. We know we have to better than we were last week – our win notwithstanding – but we also know that we are capable of that.
“What pleased me most about last week was that we could have lay down after we conceded the goal, but we didn't. Our battling qualities showed themselves again, and that's all you can ask for.
“The impact our players had coming off the bench was another pleasing aspect, the likes of Gareth McKibben and Shane Donnelly coming on helped to change the game.
“The boys are mad keen for this week – it's a home game, our first Sigerson Cup match at the Davitt's pitch, and I don't think anyone wants to play St Mary's in west Belfast, so that's something in our favour.”
Galway attcker Rob Finnerty was to the fore in DCU's comfortable 2-17 to 1-9 round one win over Maynooth University last week and could feature prominently again this afternoon. Seán Fitzgerald, Sligo's Red Óg Murphy and Dublin prospect Jack Bryant were also prominent in that victory, while Longford's Joseph Hagan and Laois star Mark Barry are others St Mary's would do well to keep an eye on.
Despite the undoubted quality they will be coming up against in Poleglass today, McGilly insists St Mary's aren't banking on the second bite of the cherry they will afforded if the DCU hurdle proves insurmountable.
“We treat every round as a proper championship game, as a knock-out round, which is the way it should be,” he added.
“We know there is another opportunity there if it doesn't go our way against DCU but we're not approaching it like that. St Mary's are good at championship football and we want to utilise that to our advantage.”