Top whistler Pat McEnaney has been confirmed as the referee for this Saturday’s Senior Colleges All-Ireland Championship semi-final.
The Monaghan referee will take charge as Leinster champions Dundalk Schools face MacRory Cup champions St Colman’s, who lifted the title on St Patrick’s Day.
The reigning Ulster champions completed back-to-back title wins for the first time since 1978/79 when they captured the trophy after a fiercely contested final with St Patrick’s Academy Dungannon.
Played in the Athletic Grounds in Armagh, the Newry side won by a solitary point, 2-9 to 2-8, setting up a clash with Dundalk, who have been back in training since their historic win over Meath rivals St Patrick’s Navan.
For Leslie Toal’s men, it is another game where they go in as the underdogs as St Patrick’s were firm favourites in the final in Páirc Táilteann.
But according to Toal, the underdog status suits them and his team will be ready for the game.
“Everything has been going well in training”, said the manager. “Their feet was brought firmly back down to earth two days after they won the trophy. They celebrated the Saturday and Sunday night and after that, it was back to training.
“We’ve had a couple of sessions with them, but on Saturday you could see the difference. They were a lot sharper than the last couple of sessions.”
The side has a few niggly injuries but apart from the unfortunate injury to Robert Quigley, they are at full-strength.
“A lad for St Patrick’s stamped on Robert’s hand at the end of the match in the final, off the ball. He broke two bones in his hand. He had an operation and he will be out for six or seven weeks.
“He will be back on the team next year, but it was a bad act.”
Post match, one of the St Patrick’s players was said to have reported the player in question for the stamp, but Toal has heard nothing more Leinster Council.
One thing he is happy with is the appointment of McEnaney, who many consider to be the top official in the country.
“He’s a good referee, considered as the best out there at the moment. He will keep a handle on things. It’s one headache out of the way for us.”
Toal is also satisfied with the pitch, as the game will take place in Oliver Plunkett Park, Crossmaglen.
“It’s a good surface and it’s close-by so I am expecting a good crowd and hope that people bring their Louth flags to the game and show their support for the lads.”
Looking back at the final, Toal and the selectors watch the 2-8 to 0-12 victory in DVD and admitted that the side could have made life a little bit easier on themselves in the final few minutes.
Down by two points, St Patrick’s surged forward constantly, trying to snatch a late goal.
Toal thinks the experience of it will bode well for the team and benefit them if it happens again against St Colman’s.
“I think they had the belief in them already, but if not the final would of given them that. I think this team are not too bothered by who they play as they know no team is unbeatable.
“We watched the DVD back of the game and we could of got three points in the last five minutes which would have made things a lot easier for ourselves, but that comes with experience as there was a bit of panic on the day as we were not used to being in that position.
“The lads did very well defending though.”
When asked about the opposition, Toal acknowledged the credentials of St Colman’s but he knows that every team can be beaten.
“St Colman’s have won the Ulster and All-Ireland title, but they are beatable.” Throw-in is scheduled for this Saturday, March 26 at 2.45pm.
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