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Miracle of 'Ranch' in fight for more Sigerson success

Final countdown: Jarlath Og Burns has a big role to play
Final countdown: Jarlath Og Burns has a big role to play
Declan Bogue

By Declan Bogue

Like a great deal of GAA followers, I have virtually no interest in the Sigerson Cup.

This attitude is not uncommon. During a conversation with a former college player last weekend he told his story of turning out for his university around a decade or so back.

The main draws for him were getting the snazzy-looking training gear and the prospect of some tempting weekends away in the company of his peers.

"In it for all the wrong reasons," he said.

That's the way it is for most. Some put great store in the Sigerson Cup and there are a few examples of Sigerson success, such as St Mary's in 1989, Queen's the year after and Jordanstown the year after that as having kick-started the flurry of Ulster All-Ireland titles.

No doubt, the atmosphere within those teams benefitted from having great players such as Kieran McGeeney, Peter Canavan and Anthony Tohill, and were helped by the cutting-edge coaching at the time.

But by and large, the Sigerson passes me, and the vast majority, by without much of a fuss. There is one exception though, and that is when St Mary's progress.

A lot of what St Mary's are about appeals to the GAA love of the underdog. You have the smallest college in the competition routinely able to give a bloody nose to the biggest. And all of this without the bursaries and other, ahem, enticements that other colleges seem to have in attracting players to play for them.

Just 150 male students go to the college. They face University College Cork in the final tonight in Portlaoise, the ball going in at 7.30pm. Even in where the fixture was made, they don't seem to quite catch their share of fair play.

And yet, it never deters them.

An interesting subplot will be how Jarlath Óg Burns - son of the man who won it 30 years previously - manages against one of the best young prospects in the country in Sean O'Shea.

That's a flavour of the task ahead of 'Ranch' manager Gavin McGilly, a man carving out quite a reputation for himself as a serial winner, who we last saw on the line for The Moy in their All-Ireland Intermediate triumph.

Good luck to all.

Belfast Telegraph


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