Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Declan Bogue: Students faced with a world of possibilities

Some months ago, that widely-respected gentleman of Derry football, Adrian McGuckin, found himself in a debate on Twitter, defending the purpose of third-level football.

It's worth considering this point in the week when many students are preparing themselves for their first year of college. Some will thrive in the environment of excellence that Queen's and UUJ provide and become much better footballers for being exposed to all that expertise and equipment.

Those that go to St Mary's will have to eke out more from themselves than they might have before, given how they struggle with lack of numbers and the ruling that prevents them from playing freshers.

The point is that players from weaker counties have an opportunity to express themselves and win alongside players from counties who will aspire to the highest glories.

We think of the likes of Paul Brewster, running onto a boggy swamp of a pitch to embrace his brother Tom after his wonderful exhibition of free taking brought the Sigerson Cup back to Queen's in 2000, making it a double for that famous family.

Some will drift away from football when they attend college, the lure of amber nectar and the high stool too strong a pull to resist. Others will thrive in the novelty of it all and become not only better footballers, but will develop the kind of qualities that equip them for an inter-county career.

What the colleges need though is a gesture of goodwill. And that could start with enshrining their priority pick of players in the Dr McKenna Cup.

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