Saturday 18 January 2020

Connaughton out to make history with maturing AIT

Gary Connaughton hoping to make some football history Photo: Gerry Mooney/Staff
Gary Connaughton hoping to make some football history Photo: Gerry Mooney/Staff

Cliona Foley

WESTMEATH'S 2008 All Star goalkeeper Gary Connaughton is hoping to make some football history with Athlone IT today.

The midlands side have never reached the final of the blue riband of third-level colleges football and face a daunting task in today's semi-final considering opponents UCC are 19-time Sigerson Cup winners and feature a current All Star (Michael Shields) in midfield.

Athlone IT are an example of how the recession has been a benefit to some institutions. "The economy has meant that some people who have found themselves out of work have returned to study and Gary is one of those," explained AIT's GAA development officer Garry Sammon.

"We have definitely benefited from getting several students like him who've given us a new maturity this year."

Athlone ousted the University of Limerick and the fancied Sligo IT and have two Clara club stars in John Reynolds and talented defender Matty Mitchell.

Their team also includes three prominent Longford seniors -- Diarmuid Masterson, Ger Dennigan and Ken Smyth.

Today's other Sigerson semi-final features NUI Maynooth against DCU. Maynooth caused a massive shock by knocking out UUJ and include talented Dubliner Ger Brennan in their ranks.

But they face a heavily-fancied DCU side who knocked out the defending champions Cork IT in the quarter-final and have already won the O'Byrne Cup.

Despite losing Cavan's Seanie Johnson to injury en route, DCU have a starting 15 of inter-county seniors, including Bryan Cullen, back as a post-grad this season. Young Player of the Year Michael Murphy (Donegal) is among their student population but he cannot play Sigerson as he is still a fresher.

Irish Independent

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