AS the last St Jarlath's Hogan Cup-winning captain, Michael Meehan appreciates the added significance of today's Hogan Cup final clash with reigning champions St Colman's, Newry, at Croke Park -- it's the first campaign since the passing of Father Oliver Hughes.
As a student with the Tuam college, Fr Hughes won the Hogan Cup in 1961 and then went on to coach the school to further titles in 1978, 1982, 1984 and 2002 before his death last year.
"It's fitting that the first year he isn't around that they have got to the final," Meehan said. "It's a nice way to mark his passing and if they could win, it would make it even more special."
Fr Hughes spoke to the Irish Independent in 2008 about the importance of colleges football and how St Jarlath's -- aided by an amalgamation with neighbouring St Pat's -- had managed to remain a force, despite a rapidly changing landscape in the competition.
"Success breeds success," Fr Hughes said. "In the school, the work continues to be done. When people come into St Jarlath's there are expectations. Expectations from teachers, parents and pupils and those expectations have to be met."
Jarlath's will be seen as outsiders by many against the competition's second most successful side, but Meehan and several other past pupils will travel to Croke Park hopeful the occasion can renew memories of previous successes.
The Galway side comprehen-sively saw off St Michael's, Enniskillen, in the 2002 final to land their 12th title.
"Those are great memories," Meehan said. "I remember Fr Ollie just being delighted with the win, it was the first one since 1994, so it was very important. For years after that, he would always stop you in the street and ask you about your football or your free-taking. He loved football, he had a huge influence on me and my career."