St Jarlath's aim to lift Galway gloom
St Jarlath's, Tuam can deliver a much-needed shot in the arm to Galway football in today's Hogan Cup semi-final (All-Ireland Senior Colleges 'A') clash with Cork's Colaiste Chroist Ri (throw-in 2.0, Claughan).
While the county side are struggling at the foot of Division 1, St Jarlath's have blazed a trail through this competition for the most part, even if some of their preparation was not ideal, as manager Joe Burke explains.
"We played a quarter-final against St Gerard's of Castlebar and then our semi-final with St Muredach's, Ballina was called off because they had several injuries and flu in the school, so we were straight into a Connacht final with just three league games and one championship match under our belt," says Burke.
That rustiness showed in their provincial final success over Sligo side Summerhill when a 10-point half-time lead ended in just a four-point success.
"We played well in parts in the Connacht final and in others we didn't," adds Burke, whose side are in the second year of their amalgamation with the now defunct St Pat's of Tuam.
"Colaiste Chrosit Ri have had three cracking championship matches -- Connacht schools are at a little bit of a disadvantage that way sometimes. It's not an excuse for us though, it is just the way it is."
The Galway school, who last won a Hogan Cup in 2002 when Michael Meehan was captain and the late Fr Oliver Hughes was in charge, have played a number of challenges this year, including one against Dingle, the side Chroist Ri beat in the Munster final.
They came out on top that day but Burke and his management team of Tommy Newell, Cathal Furey, Clive Monaghan and Liam Quinn know that will have little bearing on today's match.
"Challenges can sometimes give you a false impression, especially as sometimes teams empty the bench, so we don't know what we're facing. The Munster final was on a week before the Connacht decider so we were just concentrating on ourselves at that stage," says Burke.
The other semi-final sees MacRory and All-Ireland champions St Colman's, Newry take on the Dundalk colleges combination in a derby match in Crossmaglen (throw-in 2.45).