Oisin savours memorable Sigerson success

By Niall Gartland

OISIN McCann brought his name to the attention of a national audience with a seismic performance in Ulster University’s Sigerson Cup final triumph over UCD last Wednesday evening in Tralee.

The Killyclogher midfielder earned deserved plaudits for a display that exemplified all that is good about modern midfield play.

There was high fielding in the middle third – and plenty of it – but he also got through a mountain of work on the night.

That was typified by his first-half goal as Ulster University made their move, not to mention a soaring catch on the edge of his own square when an increasingly desperate UCD had gone for broke. It was, it’s fair to say, an excellent performance in every respect.

Ulster University were full value for their 3-12 to 0-15 victory in the prestigious colleges competition, and McCann says that the very genuine bond that exists among the players goes a long way towards explaining their resounding Sigerson success.

“Our main focus was getting boys involved that want to be there, and want to be playing. The management tried to keep a steady team together week in, week out.

“When the season started there wasn’t that much chat really but we’re good mates at this stage. There’s definitely a nice bond and I’d say that had a massive part to play.”

Eyebrows had been raised at the host venue – Tralee is a five-hour spin from Belfast and it’s not exactly down the road from Dublin-based UCD either – but it didn’t detract from the overall experience.

“It was a long enough jaunt but we’d good craic on the way down and we were really well looked-after so we can have no complaints,” said McCann, a second year Sports Science student.

“It was definitely very enjoyable. You’re playing with such a high calibre of players, they’re all county standard. It’s your only real experience of playing with boys across the province.”

The Sigerson Cup final was broadcast live on TG4 and McCann’s name was mentioned as having a particularly good game by a string of prominent journalists from around the country. He has prior experience of playing for the Tyrone u-20s and he was more than a match for a UCD team littered with senior inter-county players in every sector.

“It was nice playing on the big stage. I’m not on the county panel so it was definitely good to play in such a prestigious competition alongside very good players with the game live on television.

“It has boosted my confidence, knowing you’re good enough to hold your own against county players, especially winning the competition at the end of it.”

McCann was one of seven Tyrone-based players in the starting line-up last Wednesday night. Darragh Canavan won the man of the match award with a sensational attacking performance, scoring five points from play, while his younger brother Ruairi weighed in with four points. Another player McCann singled out for praise was Derry footballer Niall Loughlin, a player with incredible energy levels.

He said: “It’s a joy to play with those lads. Darragh Canavan is different gravy, you just want to give him the ball and let him work away with it, and he’ll always pull you out of a hole. Niall Loughlin too, the work-rate of those boys is mad, they never stop, they’re constantly putting in tackles. They’re all about the team and that’s what makes them such great players.”

McCann is now the second member of the household to win a Sigerson Cup, following in the footsteps of his brother Conall who played a significant role in St Mary’s historic victory – by coincidence also against UCD – in the 2017 final.

“It’s brilliant to have two Sigerson Cup winners in the same house, they’re not easily won. UCD are so strong on paper, they have some brilliant county players like Ryan O’Toole and Daire Cregg.

“It’s just been brilliant to have been a part of things, it’s a massive competition and I loved every minute of it, and it’s still a bit surreal to be honest.”

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