By Niall McCoy
AS the St Mary’s coach pulled out of the Connacht Centre of Excellence on Saturday evening, with an extra passenger on board in the form of the Sigerson Cup, the players’ thoughts would have turned to the ‘welcome home’ awaiting them from their clubs, friends and families.
For Tyrone and Owen Roes star Cathal McShane, that greeting would have been particularly special. The Sigerson Cup of course holds special significance for Owen Roes because it was back in 1911 that Glenmornan native George Sigerson presented the Sigerson Cup for an Inter-collegiate Gaelic Football competition to be competed for by all the Third level Colleges in Ireland.
Cathal became the second Owen Roes man to lift the Sigerson following in the footsteps of Declan McCrossan who annexed the title in 2001 with UUJ.
However bringing an extra dimension to McShane’s win is the fact that where the Owen Roes’ man currently lives, is believed to be the same land where George Sigerson himself once lived ensuring that when the Sigerson Cup comes back to Glenmornan it will be coming ‘home’ once more.
The Owen Roes’ man has links to this competition that few can lay claim to. Dr George Sigerson is believed to have spent some of his life in Glenmornan on the very land now lived on by the McShane family.
McShane said that the local link added something extra to a weekend that would already live long in the memory.
“When you’re playing it doesn’t come into your head but after it when we had the cup home with us, you sit down and you do think about it,” said McShane.
“It makes it extra special and it’s good to create that bit of history. I was talking to ones around home about it and they were updating me on the whole situation about a month back.
“We were saying that it would be lovely to get the cup back to the place where the man it’s named after is from, but that was a long way out before the games had even started.
“A lot of hard work still had to be done at that stage, so it’s brilliant that the cup can now come back to where George Sigerson was from.”
The performances of the Ranch squad throughout the tournament were laced with bravery and guts. In their four games, their total winning margin totalled five points.
McShane said that Paddy Tally’s squad had made a commitment at the start of the year to give every last ounce to the cause, and he feels that it proved decisive.
“When we were together at the start of the year we had a meeting and we said that we would give everything. Every single man was going to come together and thankfully it has worked out perfectly.
“The games when we won by a point, those games have swung our way in the last five minutes and I think that’s all down to the togetherness of the lads.
“It just shows that we wouldn’t give up and we’d fight to the end. Even the quarter-final with DCU, we were four points down with about a minute left and clawed it back, and that’s down to the character of the lads.”
St Mary’s certainly made life difficult for themselves in Galway last weekend. In the semi-final against UCC, they conceded two goals within ten seconds to trail 2-0 to 0-0 after five minutes. Incredibly in the final against UCD, they also found themselves 2-0 to 0-0 down after the openings skirmishes.
“It’s funny looking back at it now but in that moment in time, in both games, we weren’t happy at all,” McShane continued. “Obviously in the Cork game we had set out a plan of what we wanted to do, and that didn’t go too well.
“We had a mountain to climb but the boys got stuck in even though they were six points down. I had said to the boys that plenty of other teams would have laid down and not come back into the game, but we had the belief to do that.
“Coming into the final we talked and talked about getting off to a good start, and it was just unbelievable that we conceded two goals straight away again.
“I remember seeing a few of the UCD players and they were smiling and probably thinking it would be a walk-over. But, again, the lads stuck in there and thankfully we came out on top.”
In what was a great day for the Glenmornan club, midfielder Tony Devine was also crowned a winner as helped Magee to success in the Corn na Mac Leinn competition.
Magee had overcome Liverpool Hope in Friday’s semi final before edging out RCSI 1-17 to 1-14 in Saturday’s decider, with Devine influential over the hour, converting for his side in the final.
Illustrating his dedication to the game this was Tony’s third game in four days. Late on Wednesday in helped Owen Roe to victory over Glack in the Ulster League before travelling to Mayo on Thursday.