MAC RORY QUARTER FINAL.
St Michael’s have shaped up as one of the stronger MacRory sides this season, the team performing steadily in the league section of the competition and easily qualifying for the knock out quarter final stage.
But it has not been all plain sailing and they were unable to finish top of their section losing out in their final fixture to St Patrick’s Cavan.
Now the luck of the quarter final draw has seen the duo paired for the opener of the knock out stage and this is one of the key ties of the round. The winner of this derby tussle as they head into the last four will have staked a very strong claim indeed that they are capable of going all the way.
It has been quite some time since the Cavan college has featured as strongly as they have done this season and clearly they are a side of substance.
Their hunger will be palpable as they attempt to end decades of under achievement in the premier provincial colleges competition.
The victory that St Patricks had over St Michael’s in the final league fixture was just a three point margin but they will have taken great heart from that.Every reason for them then to be optimistic about their prospects this weekend.
A team of proven pedigree and they certainly pose a massive test for St Michael’s. This will be a game that will go right down to the wire and while St Patrick’s may have a slight mental edge thanks to that pre Christmas win, St Michael’s on the other hand will not have had their belief seriously undermined.
The Enniskillen’s side preparations for the game has seen them play a handful of challenge games which has kept them ticking over but they were never to have a full first choice lineout, the opportunity taken to have a look at other players and caution preferred in regard to some injuries.
The last few weeks have seen in house preparations dominate the countdown.
St Michael’s should be approaching the game in a pretty positive frame of mind. They have proven their quality with the solid string of wins which earned them qualification without any major concern.
No shortage of talented players laced throughout their lineout and the MacRory tradition of total commitment and drive that is the engine room of Drumclay sides is alive and well.
Mainspring figures in the defence include full back James Allen and half back Jack McCann while up front the attack is spearheaded by Eoin McManus at full forward who provides the pivot.
But right throughout the squad there are lots of players who have contributed consistently to the performance so far this season.
Captain Ciaran Corrigan is a very busy operator, mopping up, always available as an outlet. Lee Brennan and Daire Gallagher are sharp score takers with Patrick Reihill gaining a reputation as a goal poacher bar none.
Into the mix go middle third players, Conor Durnien and Conor McAuley with Shane Rooney an attacker who drives forward with admirable directness.
All round a really solid panel which plays with organisation and conviction and if they hit their game they are going to be an exceptionally hard team to deny.
The work ethic has of course also been firmly installed into their approach.
Being beaten by St Patrick’s in what was in effect a league section final will not have done any harm whatsoever. It will simply have served notice that if they are to make it into the semi finals they will have to deliver a top of the range team display.
No reason not to be confident that they can produce what is required of them against one of competition favourites.
But it will demand a lot of sheer hard graft and an all round team display which sees virtually every player gaining an edge in his particular area of the pitch.
St Patrick’s didn’t quite follow through on their league section success, they lost to St Macarten’s Monaghan in the McCormack Cup decider but despite this they should be full of belief that they can end a dismal tale of non achievement, 1972 the last time the college claimed the title.
Adding a dash of intrigue to next Sunday’s clash is the fact that Teemore’s Cian McManus will be the pivotal figure in the Cavan defensive set up and he will be facing two first cousins, Eoin McManus and Conor McAuley.
The St Patrick’s centre back is a player of quality, a very promising talent with a bright future not just with his club Teemore but with Fermanagh, already a county minor panellist.
And in the St Patrick’s attack there are proven performers in Brendan Argue, Ben Conaty and Brian Sheehan, so a Cavan side who pose a major threat.
Much to look forward to in what should be a rousing, full blooded MacRory battle, right up there with the barnstorming epics of the recent past.
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