Tricky MacRory Cup league opener for St Patrick’s, ArmaghOctober 27, 2016
ST Patrick’s Armagh begin their Dankse Bank MacRory Cup Group C campaign with a tricky opener against St Michael’s Enniskillen on Thursday.
St Patrick’s, Maghera and St Mary’s CBS make up the remainder of the group and Paddy Marley, who manages alongside new Cavan manager Mattie McGleenan, insists he expects a titanic battle as he believes the standard in the MacRory continues to rise.
“At this level the competition is huge,” said Marley.
“There is no team now that you can target for a win. All the teams are so well prepared and there will be no easy points found.
“The amount of preparation put in by the players and time put in by the management has moved on much like it has for most clubs.
“A lot of that is driven by the players and I know here in St Patrick’s the lads want to do well, because clubs in Armagh have started to be successful.
“Teams have chased Crossmaglen for long enough and this year Cullyhanna toppled them and then Maghery won the Armagh senior club championship for their first ever time. And we feel that we are chasing the MacRory Cup.”
St Pat’s are a proud footballing school. They were one of the founding members of the MacRory competition and have won the trophy 14 times.
But tradition can inspire or weigh heavily. St Pat’s last won the MacRory Cup 16 years ago when players such as Tyrone’s Sean Cavanagh and Armagh’s Ronan Clarke and Mal Mackin wore the famous red and green jersey.
That MacRory Cup win was the 14th for school, which is an impressive record but it was only their second time lifting the silverware since 1947.
And Marley wants his current panel to make their own history by looking up to past winners.
“There is a lot of memorabilia about the school on the MacRory Cup-winning team of 2000 and the great players that went on to represent their county,” said Marley.
“And the boys in our school see them as role models.
“They kind of see that, if our MacRory team is successful, then that could lead to success with their county.
“Every year we want to win it and we will try our best. We have not been overly successful with this group of players over the last few years but they have competed well and have been there or thereabouts with other teams but just nothing to show for their hard work.”
Matthew McGleenan is team captain and he is their marquee player, whether playing up front or around midfield. A county minor with Tyrone and son of manager Mattie, McGleenan is the certainly the player to watch.
Ronan Moore, James Rice and Armagh minor Cahair McGreary are other players expected to deliver out of a talented panel of 28 players.
St Pat’s have enjoyed victory in a challenge game over Loretta but much of their season hangs on a good start to their campaign and Murray expects the white heat of MacRory Cup battle to be a different prospect for his players.
“Different people will come to the fore as the games progress throughout the group campaign,” said Marley.
“Boys who may be performing well in training could react differently to playing in the MacRory Cup.
“Some will rise to the occasion and some may not. And likewise some players who maybe don’t standout out for their club may suit our gameplan in the MacRory Cup.”
Much like his previous club Scotstown, McGleenan’s football philosophy is for his players to go man-to-man and win their own battles. It’s a tactic that is easy on the eye but only if the team in question is winning those battles.
“Of course that might change as the competition progresses and we may have to resort to different tactics but at the minute that is the plan,” said Marley.
“We will see on Thursday just how well that plan works.”
St Patrick’s, Armagh play St Michael’s Enniskillen at Garvaghy today, with throw-in at 2.30pm.
Sean Mahoney Published in The Irish News