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McGilly has full confidence St Mary's will rise to the challenge in quest for more Sigerson delight

 

High hopes: Gavin McGilly is targeting a quarter-final slot
High hopes: Gavin McGilly is targeting a quarter-final slot
John Campbell

By John Campbell

Gavin McGilly's impressive coaching and managerial credentials ensure that he is already at full throttle in 2020 before some of his peers are out of the starting blocks.

The man who guided Moy to the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Football title in 2018 is currently striving to fulfil a busy dual role as the season begins to hot up.

His two immediate goals are to see St Mary's University College hurdle Maynooth in the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup on Sunday (2pm) and help Down make more progress in the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup.

As a key member of Paddy Tally's Down management team, McGilly has an important input into the side's strategy and now that they have booked a McKenna Cup semi-final against Tyrone, he is particularly keen to see them record what he regards as a significant victory.

But, working in tandem with this, McGilly is also fully focused on the efforts of his St Mary's squad to replicate their stunning Sigerson Cup triumph of three years ago.

"We came close to doing this last year but we maybe lost out on that little rub of the green that we might have needed," smiled McGilly ruefully.

"But we will be travelling to meet a Maynooth side that is managed by Kildare legend Johnny Doyle and which contains a number of inter-county players, so this will be anything but a straightforward exercise for us."

But while McGilly recognises that Maynooth will prove a tough nut to crack, he believes that there is strength in depth within his team that can prove crucial.

"We have people like Liam Rafferty and Con Kilpatrick from Tyrone, Oisin O'Neill from Armagh, and Down trio Eoin McCabe, Ruairi Burns and Jack McCartan," pointed out an optimistic McGilly.

"We also have Slaughtneil dual player Conor McAllister. We know that Maynooth will feature many of what was a very good Kildare Under-20 team so they are going to be difficult opponents."

Victory on Sunday would take St Mary's into the quarter-finals but McGilly admits he is treading with the utmost caution.

"No matter how you look at it, this is Championship football," he insisted.

"The matches are to the death, as it were. You have to be on your toes. The one thing about this St Mary's side is that they enjoy Championship football, they are generally always capable of rising to the occasion.

"I always feel that come Championship day there is usually a massive performance in the lads. That has proven to be the case over this past couple of years and I don't see any reason why it should not be the same story this time out."

Tyrone All-Ireland winner Justin McMahon, ex-Antrim ace Kevin Niblock, Lorcan Martin and Ciaran Kearney help to form McGilly's formidable backroom team.

"It's great to have people of this high calibre behind me and their commitment provides a tremendous inspiration for the players," said McGilly.

St Mary's are not the only seat of learning from the province who will be in action on Sunday as Ulster University must travel to meet UCD, while tomorrow Queen's University face a tough battle against TUD.

"Obviously it would be great if all three sides could win so let's keep our fingers crossed," added McGilly.

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