Inspirational Glass ready for final say
St Patrick's Maghera manager Paul Hughes has insisted that star midfielder Conor Glass will be fit for today's Hogan Cup final (Croke Park, 3pm) against St Brendan's of Killarney.
Glass, who has signed forms and will link up with Australian Rules side Hawthorn after the academic year ends, was left on the substitutes' bench along with specialist man-marker Keelan Feeney for their nervy All-Ireland semi-final victory over Summerhill Community School of Sligo.
While the influential youngster appeared to struggle with a shoulder injury after being introduced with three minutes left, Hughes insists everything is fine with him now and he is in line to start.
Hughes said: "He is grand, he is over everything. We have him and Keelan Feeney ready for Saturday. We can report a clean bill of health which is a big bonus for us.
"Although Conor was an obvious loss for us the last day, Keelan was also a big miss. He would have been the man we would have earmarked for Kyle Cawley."
Dismissing fears that the Glass injury could be serious, Hughes said: "I would say it wasn't much more than a dead arm, really. He probably would have wanted to start against Summerhill, but we didn't feel it was right to put him in that position."
Explaining the school's holistic approach to their sporting and academic endeavours, Hughes says of the children: "They always deal with 'what's next.'
"No matter what you are doing, you are not trying to take ownership of the cubs. You say to them, 'look, here is something else that is going for you, how do you manage your time well that you can pay enough attention to all of these different things?'"
He continues with a rich line of metaphor: "The way we dealt with it, is that if mammy only puts on one saucepan for dinner it's a very boring dinner. But if she keeps the three pots boiling, you get a much better dinner.
"That's what we say to the boys. We appreciate that there are a lot of things going on here, manage your time well, we will give you whatever rest we can with it, let us know what is going on with you. You hope the boys then will recognise that fact and reciprocate that you are trying to do the best for them, a bit like that dinner; a nice tasty dinner with plenty of stuff on the plate. Plenty of experiences and we hope they do well in all their experiences."
Maghera have a rich history in the Hogan Cup, winning it five times (1989, 1990, 1995, 2003 and 2013). This puts them third in the leaderboard, behind only Ulster rivals St Colman's Newry (who have eight) and St Jarlath's of Tuam (who have 12).
Today's opponents, St Brendan's of Tralee, have two of their own in 1969 and 1992.
Hughes had quite a job on his hands to overcome a six-day turnaround from the MacRory Cup final win over St Paul's Bessbrook to the semi-final.
He outlined his role, saying: "When you move on to the second stage, or a new competition as the Hogan is, there is always a bit of a lull. Boys at some stage over the course of that first half-hour, they have to answer through their performance, we want to try and win this.
"That's when you appeal to the boys, what they are getting out of it, how long they want it to go on for, how much they want to put into it."
The Maghera side have some colourful characters among their ranks. Sean Cassidy has converted himself into a goalkeeper and while he may not necessarily think of himself in that role, Hughes believes his personality is well suited to it.
Up front, Shane McGuigan accounted for 1-8 in the semi-final and has trickery and accuracy.
Explaining the unquenchable thirst for success in the school, started by legendary former teacher Adrian McGuckin, Hughes said: "We get greedy. When you win these things you get greedy. Sean Marty (Lockhart) and these boys won one in 2013. We came back the following year and lost to a Kerry school, Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne.
"St Brendan's Killarney have absolutely blitzed everybody. You are in Croke Park, and we said to them in mid-January, they will decide when the thing is over."
He added: "They have taken it as far as they can do, but it will finish in Croke Park one way or another. That's where the boys want it to be, they have given themselves the chance."