By Niall Gartland
RUAIRI McHugh has packed a lot into his short career, and he’s hoping to add more silverware to the trophy cabinet in Sunday’s MacRory Cup showdown against Omagh CBS.
The Holy Trinity captain has suffered some bruising defeats – he was part of the Tyrone minor team that lost to Meath by a single point on All-Ireland final day in 2021, and last year’s MacRory Cup final didn’t go to plan against St Mary’s, Magherafelt.
But he had a happier time of it with the Tyrone u-20s last season, forming an impressive midfield partnership with Michael McGleenan and winning the All-Ireland title in quite some style. On a personal level, it was a considerable boost.
“It definitely helped. I wasn’t the only player on the u-20 team who had felt the pain of that defeat in Croke Park the previous year with the minors. That was a massive day for us so it ended up being a tough one to take.”
The Coalisland man is a cousin of clubmate Brian Hampsey, who also starts for the Holy Trinity side. Brian is the brother of Tyrone senior inter-county captain Padraig Hampsey, who has been something of a mentor to McHugh.
“Paudie’s always been there to help me out. Last year with the Tyrone u-20s he gave me advice, and he always wishes me the best of luck. He’s a top man for that type of thing.”
McHugh skippered the Holy Trinity team that reached the final for the first time in their history last year, where they fell short on the day against a fine St Mary’s, Magherafelt team.
Perhaps the pressure weighed on Holy Trinity, but McHugh says they’re completely focused this time around.
“Obviously we’d a very slow start and that meant we were chasing the game.
“The match was played on their terms, so we know we have to start strongly in this one.
“Last time there was a lot of chat about how brilliant it was that Holy Trinity were in their first ever final, but now we’re past that and looking to make history.
“We have a large amount of players that were on the panel last year, and everyone still has that hurt within them, so it would be unbelievable to be on the other side of the result on MacRory Cup final day.”
Both Holy Trinity and Omagh CBS have had to dig deep in order to even reach the final. The Cookstown school claimed a massive win over St Patrick’s, Academy in the semi-final, a game where their opponents gave it absolutely everything.
“We have gone right down to the wire a few times this year, with a bit of drama in the last few minutes.
“It has shown that we can stay calm and see games out, which we have done so far.
“The Academy were the same. No team was prepared to accept defeat. The Academy put in a shift, but the last few minutes went our way.
“That’s just the way football is sometimes. It was unbelievable to get over the line, unbelievable for the school to get to back-to-back MacRory finals.”