By Mark McGoldrick
ST Michael’s College kick off their MacRory Cup campaign on Tuesday with a tough clash against St Colman’s, Newry and manager Peter Teague is keen to get the season off to a winning start.
The Drumclay side have been drawn in a difficult group against St Mary’s, Magherafelt, St Patrick’s, Dungannon, and this week’s opponents, St Colman’s, Newry.
Teague, from Dromore, is heading into his second year in charge of the Drumclay side and he is urging his players to hit the ground running when they take to St Tiernach’s Park, Clones on Tuesday.
“We’re expecting a very tough battle. We know we’re going to be up against it from the off,” anticipated the St Michael’s College PE teacher.
“When you look back to last year and Omagh CBS’s Hogan Cup run, the closest team to come to beat them was St Colman’s, Newry.
“They should have beaten them that night and they have a lot of boys back again that were involved with that team,” said the Tyrone All-Ireland winning panelist.
This stage of the MacRory Cup campaign is a group format, with the top three teams in the group securing qualification to the knockout stage, while the bottom team is dumped out of the competition.
Teague understands that a win in the opening game would go a long way to helping St Michael’s College book a place in the knockout rounds.
“With the way it is, we’re in a very tough group. We’re keeping an eye on it (the training load), but trying to push hard otherwise it could be ‘Goodnight, Irene’,” said the St Michael’s College boss.
Led by captain Conor O’Hanlon, St Michael’s College have a strong squad.
They’ve plenty of scoring options in Michael Burns, Sean Corry and Mattie McDermott and Teague’s happy with his panel.
“We’re motoring along nicely. There has been a good buzz coming about training in the past three weeks in particular,” said Teague.
“The lads seem to be raring to go and I feel like the squad is in a good place, although if we had two or three back from injury, it would help push the squad along and make more competition for places.”
Teague himself has big boots to fill, with his predecessor Dom Corrigan leading St Michael’s to five MacRory Cups and a Hogan Cup title in 2019.
However, his first season in charge was a ‘good stepping stone’ to finding out what’s expected at MacRory Cup level, says the Dromore man.
“I’ve got a lot more contacts now and I’m more aware of what MacRory Cup football is all about,” said Teague.
“Last year we had four competitive games. We won two and we lost two and in the knockout round, St Pat’s (Dungannon) beat us by five points.
“We’re certainly looking to improve this season,” added the St Michael’s boss.
Ahead of the new campaign, Teague has drafted St Michael’s College principal Mark Henry, Tyrone minor manager Gerard Donnelly and the vastly experienced Damian Stewart into his backroom team.
“We’re lucky to have the likes of Mr (Mark) Henry, Mr (Gerard) Donnelly and Mr (Damian) Stewart in to help drive the thing on,” said the Drumclay boss.
“It’s great to have those men involved and we’re fortunate to be in a position in the school where we can call on the experience of these men.”