McHugh homes in on clash with native Donegal
Eoin McHugh had not quite bargained for lining up against his county colleagues when the draw for the McKenna Cup competition was made.
But when the UUJ side in which he is a pivotal figure were bracketed with Cavan, Tyrone and his native Donegal in Section C, the competition suddenly assumed added allure for him.
Having inherited his love of football from his father James, who was a member of the Donegal side that won the All-Ireland title in 1992, Eoin has blossomed into one of the top players in Ulster, although he still believes he has work to do on further honing his own game.
"This is going to be a very tough McKenna Cup for UUJ and it will give us all a chance to improve our individual skills," says Eoin. "We are trying to build for the Sigerson Cup and maybe go on and win it. In this context, we feel that the McKenna Cup will prove massively important for us especially now that we will be meeting what we believe to be top quality sides."
"Let's just say that it will be something different playing against my own people from Donegal but that's a challenge I will just have to embrace.
"I would say that some of the boys will be joking and laughing when we come up against them but maybe we will be able to put one over on them."
His uncle, Donegal legend Martin McHugh, is the UUJ manager but Eoin certainly does not expect any favours from him.
With two years' experience already gained in his county colours, Eoin is expected to give a lead as UUJ seek to make an impact in the McKenna Cup.
"We have some good players in our side and my priority is to see UUJ do well. But it's great to be playing at this level. We are going to have to hit top form if we are to do anyway well in our McKenna Cup games, that's for sure," he adds.
Meanwhile, it is believed that Donegal manager Rory Gallagher will press ahead with plans to field his Under 21s in the McKenna Cup.
Gallagher revealed this intention some weeks ago but, since then, Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has suggested that Gallagher may summon some of his more experienced troops into action for the January games against Cavan and Tyrone in particular.
The Donegal boss, though, maintains that he is particularly keen to assess how his younger players fare in the competition.