Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup quarter-final
Ulster University v Technological University Dublin (Wednesday, Grangegorman, 8pm, live on HEC YouTube)
CONOR Glass could pull on his third different jersey in the space of 11 days (which included him getting engaged to partner Niamh O’Donnell) if he lines out for Ulster University in tomorrow night’s Sigerson Cup quarter-final.
His Glen clubmate Ethan Doherty, who also starred for the Maghera club in the All-Ireland triumph over St Brigid’s on January 21 and Derry’s successful Division One return against Kerry last Saturday, could do the same when ‘The Poly’ cross swords with a TU Dublin side that has won two out of two in this campaign.
Barry Dillon’s Ulster University outfit has won two out of three. The Jordanstown side beat reigning champions University College Cork in their opener but then lost to UCD before returning to winning ways with a 1-16 to 2-7 victory against MTU Cork.
Last weekend a host of UU players including Ciaran Daly, Conor Cush, Ruairi Canavan and Darragh Canavan (Tyrone), Ronan McCaffrey and Josh Largo-Ellis (Fermanagh), Ben McCarron, Niall Loughlin, Glass and Doherty (Derry), Ryan O’Toole (Monaghan) and Ryan Magill (Down) were in action for their Ulster counties so former Derry goalkeeper Dillon has a lot of firepower at his disposal. But with county training to factor in, he won’t be able to finalise his starting line-up until the hours before the game.
TU Dublin have no shortage of county stars in their line-up. They edged out University of Galway thanks to a late goal from Mayo’s attacking wing-back Cian Hanley in their opener and majors from Dublin hopeful Luke Swan and Wexford’s Joe Prendergast saw them past Belfast’s St Mary’s and into the last eight.
“All round the field they have good quality county senior players,” said UU manager Dillon.
“They have the bit between their teeth this year. They wanted to go through the front door (to the quarter-finals) which they’ve done and they’re very ambitious and it seems as if they’ve got a team there. They have a lot of students to pick from and a good set-up, so it’s going to be a massive task for us.”
Ulster University haven’t reached the semi-final of the Sigerson since 2018 when they lost a Titanic struggle against UCD at Inniskeen. The game went to extra-time and then extra-extra-time before the Dublin students prevailed and went on to beat NUIG in the final.
“Hopefully, with a bit of luck, we’ll get there again this year,” said Dillon who faces a constant challenge to juggle resources without putting too much pressure on the players who have other commitments.
“We’ve tried to be fair to all the boys,” he added.
“We’re giving the county boys plenty of rest-time and not starting them in games or taking them off to manage our way through this competition. But we’re at the quarter-final stage now so there’s no room for error and we’ll have to try and put our best foot forward.”
Alongside the household names, the UU squad is backboned by club players who are determined to bring the Sigerson Cup back to Jordanstown for the first time since 2008.
“The 35 fellas we take down to Grangegorman for this game will all be wanting to play their heart out for Jordanstown, that’s a fact,” said Dillon.
“We have boys who played every Ryan Cup and Sigerson game for us and every game for their counties and they’ll be there (in Grangegorman) because they want to be there. Ask any of them and they love playing the games, every county player wants to play Sigerson and, if they didn’t, there’s a million reasons why they wouldn’t be there. If they didn’t want to play they wouldn’t turn up, but they do and it works out well.
“It’s a good competition, it’s fast-moving football with energy about it and when boys want to play in it we’re happy to accommodate them.”