St Pat’s Cavan set to meet some old friends

By Niall Gartland

ST PATRICK’S, Cavan boss Finbar O’Reilly disputes the notion that they have any sort of ‘Indian sign’ over their MacRory Cup quarter-final opponents St Patrick’s, Maghera.

In last week’s Gaelic Life, Maghera chief Paul Hughes said that they have traditionally had a hard time against this current crop of Cavan players – so much so that he said they have an ‘Indian sign’ over the famous Derry school.

They’re set to play each other in a last-eight clash in Augher this Saturday and O’Reilly isn’t exactly expecting a walkover against Maghera, who are jointly managed by Hughes and Sean Marty Lockhart.

“The facts say that their team won the D’Alton and the Rannafast. We won the Corn na nÓg and that was sorta a freak result against Maghera in the final. They won the Rannafast two years ago and have a number of Derry’s All-Ireland winning minor team coming through so it’ll be a very tough challenge for us.”

O’Reilly, who is assisted on the sidelines by Shane Fitzpatrick, recognises that they did well to come through a tough group. Draws against a star-studded Omagh CBS and St Michael’s, Enniskillen ensured they squeezed through to the last eight.

He said: “It was a three-team group and we got two draws. We drew with Enniskillen in a tough, tight game and that effectively knocked them out as they conceded a ship of goals against Omagh in their first match. All we had to do was better their result against Omagh. We played Omagh in the second game, it was nip and tuck and ended a draw.

“There’s always an element of shadow-boxing to the MacRory before Christmas, but there’s no doubt it was a tough group and the main thing was just to get through it and we did that.”

Covid cases have been high over Christmas throughout Ireland and O’Reilly says it’s made preparations difficult for their match against St Patrick’s, Maghera.

“The biggest challenge has been Covid to be honest. We’ve had a couple of issues where lads were isolating and different stuff like that.

“We got some work done but you would prefer a smoother pathway, and we’ve had the usual couple of injuries.

“But we’d be happy enough with where we’re at, we’ve a big challenge on our hands this weekend, it doesn’t get much tougher and we’re looking forward to it.”

Perhaps the main thing is that the MacRory Cup is actually being played this year. It was removed from last year’s calendar due to to the Pandemic and it was badly missed, according to O’Reilly.

“There was a gap in the year where you’d no football at all. It’s excellent that the MacRory is back, it gets the lads out and about and builds a camaraderie between
them. It’s brilliant to see it taking place and hopefully it’ll be completed.”

In terms of players to look out for, Darragh Lovett is highly rated and kicked a super equaliser in their group stage clash against St Michael’s. Others include full-back Adam Butt, James Breen, another defender, and Philip Smith at midfield.

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