St Michael’s manager Dom Corrigan says it is going to take a big performance from his side if they are to book their place in the semi-final of this year’s Mac Rory Cup.
The Enniskillen school take on Abbey CBS this Saturday in Clones and although they comfortably defeated the Newry side in the league stage of the competition, Corrigan stresses that he is expecting a big test.
“We played them in the league but they were well short of regulars that day due to club commitments in Down and they were also playing in the Rannafast final two days later. We will read nothing into that one. Abbey are a very strong side, I watched them in their play-off against St Macartan’s Monaghan and they were impressive. They are big and physical around the middle and in young McGovern up front they have got one of the top forwards in Ulster Colleges. We realise we face a real challenge but like any team from St. Michael’s, we go out fully believing in our own ability and looking to get the very best out of ourselves. That is the challenge for us on Saturday in Clones, to get the very best out of ourselves,” he said.
St Michael’s enjoyed a good league campaign as they topped their group although they did come unstuck against Omagh CBS in the league semi-final when they shipped five goals. For Corrigan though the lessons learnt from that game are invaluable.
“We were looking forward to getting a result against Omagh, and although we didn’t get it, we certainly got valuable lessons out of it and maybe in the longer term that will be more important. 
“We leaked heavy at the back and we weren’t clinical up front so there were three or four serious lessons that we took out of that. I feel we are improved now and I feel that’s what those games are about. If you were to have won it you might not have looked as harshly at your performance but we did a forensic analysis on that performance against Omagh and I feel that we are the better for it,” he added.
With the league out of the way, the attention quickly turned to the quarter-final and Corrigan wants to see his side reach a new level.
“We are blessed with a great committed bunch of players and each and every one of them have pushed each other on. There is a great crop of them underage again next year but there is a strong pool of players there also who are in their final year and they especially have been driving it on. The league was very pleasing, we looked at every player and now it is the business end and we have to get to that new level that we talked about before Christmas,” added Dom.
And Corrigan says that it is at the knockout stages of the competition that big players come to the fore.
“It is wonderful for these boys to get to the big stage in Ulster and I always say that is where the players really shine and come to the fore as to who is going to stand up later on at county level. The great Anthony Tohill once said that if you are standing up in the latter stages of the MacRory Cup you will stand up for your county in the latter stages of senior championship and it rings as true today as it did 20 years ago,” he said.
St Michael’s will need top displays throughout the pitch if they are to progress on Saturday.
At the back they will be looking to the likes of Luke Flanagan and Aithlinn O’Caithain while St Michael’s will be hoping that a strong midfield pairing of captain Brandon Horan and Joe McDade can give them control in that vital sector. And they will then look to a sharp forward line that includes the like of Darragh McBrien, Micheal Glynn and Conor Love to get them the scores to secure the win.
Corrigan though states that it will be a full squad effort if they are to come through.
“It is going to take men coming off the bench. Right throughout the league the bench have come in and made a massive difference and they are the lads who can really swing it in our favour in the last 15 minutes. We have a strong pool and it will take every one of them to ensure we get to where we want to be,” he said.