By Michael McMullan
VICTORY for Summerhill College in Friday’s Hogan Cup final would be “massive” for football in Sligo insists joint manager Mark Breheny.
The Sligo school have nine Connacht titles and Breheny has a link to their only ever Hogan Cup final appearance in 1985.
“They lost the Hogan final to Coláiste Chroist Rí,” recalls Breheny, himself a past pupil of the school.
“My own brother (Tommy) was playing that day at corner-back. I was there myself as a small little kid, my Dad and Mum brought me there.
There was “a lull” before intervention from Breheny’s St Mary’s clubmate John Clifford – of former long-term Sligo sponsors Clifford Electrical – helped get the wheels in motion to get Liam Óg Gormley involved as a GPO in county.
He dipped in to help the teachers in Summerhill as they reached three Connacht finals in a row – 2010, 2011 and 2012, when a partially hamstrung Shane Walsh came off the bench to hit three points in the last 10 minutes to shoot St Jarlath’s to glory.
Summerhill lost the 2015 final before going one better in 2016 only to see their Hogan Cup final chances become unstuck in the dying embers of a semi-final with Maghera.
Trailing by three points, Shane McGuigan – who scored 1-8 – won a penalty that Francis Kearney converted before McGuigan kicked the winner from a free.
“We are trying to get that culture and build that bond with teams,” he said of the current team who are unbeaten this year.
They are also making a habit of coming from behind with two late points to draw 2-16 each with St Gerald’s, Castlebar as a pivotal game that saw them top the group ahead of a semi-final win over Ballinrobe.
Summerhill saw off a strong Coláiste Bhaile Chláir of Claregalway in the Connacht final. There was a turnaround in the Hogan Cup semi-final when they lead by five points before needing a Ronan Niland goal to save their bacon after a St Brendan’s comeback.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s decider, it’s a repeat of a challenge game in Leitrim over Christmas, a “good contest” with “two or three” points between the teams with an element of experimentation on both sides.”
“They are great games to get. That was a good contest with a point or two in it on the day and you are always trying out a few players,” he said.
“We know their calibre, they are a serious outfit and they destroyed the All-Ireland champions (Naas) in the semi-final.
“That comes with a big worry that we have to be at the top of our game to compete with these boys.
“We take every game as it comes and have reset very quickly after victory all year and that will hopefully bode well for the final as we refocus to try and win this title.
“A win would be massive from a Sligo perspective, the school have really got behind us and the Sligo GAA community have bought into what we are trying to do.”