UUJ happy to be home
Jordanstown have the rare luxury of home advantage when they face Maynooth in this afternoon’s Sigerson Cup quarter-final(2.00).
Preparation hasn’t exactly been ideal as manager Adrian McGuckin explains.
“The problem is getting sufficient time to work with the players,” he says.
“Effectively we only have Monday nights for training and the majority of them are coming back after tough, demanding National League games the day before.”
UUJ booked their quarter-final place with victory over old adversaries Queen’s last time out.
McGuckin reckons change will be at a minimum for his team’s first home Sigerson game in eight years.
And that means that Tyrone’s Peter Hughes who plays his club football with Eskra and who was superb in the Ryan Cup is again ruled out with a knee injury.
Monaghan pair Darren Hughes and Conor McManus spearhead the Jordanstown effort along with Colm Cavanagh, Thomas McCann and Jamie Clarke.
McGuckin is renowned for finding out everything about the opposition well in advance, but this time he insists he’s drawn a blank.
“I’m not taking anything for granted, but let’s say it’s a game
I’m expecting to win.
“But then every time we go out I expect to win. We so rarely play at home that playing out at Jordanstown is no real advantage,” he said.
McGuckin’s men are entitled to be favourites and yet their opponents can call on a number of quality players including Ger Brennan, centre half back for Dublin last season, Paul Cashin of Carlow as well as Galway’s Niall Coyne.
Against Queen’s last time out Liam Hinphey, Sean O’Neill and Ronan McNabb all made telling contributions after coming off the bench.
McGuckin’s right-hand man Barney McAleenan has a healthy regard for Maynooth.
“They are very much an unknown quantity and that makes them dangerous opponents,” he said.
“They would love nothing better than to win the competition they are hosting so rest assured they are very highly committed and motivated.
“We’re under no illusions that we have to raise our game considerably if we’re to make it through to the semi-final.
“We got off to an awful start against Queen’s and things then just seemed to go from bad to worse.
“All of a sudden we found ourselves eight points down and staring defeat in the face. Half-time came at the right time for us in that it allowed us to sort it out, but even then we were in real danger of losing having to come from behind on three separate occasions.”
Such is the character and strength of this current UUJ squad that they look well equipped to book a Sigerson semi-final place on Friday week.