GAA

DkIT manager Óisín McConville feels tonight's Sigerson Cup opener with Trinity is a '50/50' game

But the 2002 All-Ireland winner reckons his side can come through

Caoimhín Reilly

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Caoimhín Reilly

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caoimhin.reilly@dundalkdemocrat.ie

DkIT manager Óisín McConville feels tonight's Sigerson Cup opener with Trinity is a '50/50' game

DKIT Sigerson Cup team manager Óisín McConville. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)

DkIT manager Óisín McConville has described tonight's Sigerson Cup opener with Trinity College as "a 50/50 game".

Tonight's match is significant as it sees the Dundalk outfit return to the Higher Education's top-flight championship after a nine-year absence. But, while the two-in-a-row holders of the Trench Cup will go into the match as slight underdogs, McConville is hopeful of a positive outcome in Santry.

"It's very much a game we can win," the 2002 All-Ireland winner told The Dundalk Democrat.

"We would have been disappointed with how the league went. We got to the semi-final and it was a game we should have been winning to get to the final so we have that disappointment to get over.

"The Trinity game is basically a 50/50 game. They're probably a team who have struggled in the Sigerson over the last couple of years and we're obviously coming from the Trench so it's definitely a step-up . But it's a winnable game and we're hoping to get the best out of what we have.

"Sam Mulroy is a major miss for us having broken his leg earlier in the year with Louth, but you could have anywhere up to five extra players coming in in any case and then teams have injuries. As I say, for us, Sam is a massive blow because he was fitting in really nicely.

"But that's why I have a panel and it's probably the same for everybody and there is a turnover of players from league to championship anyway, that's just something we have got to accept," he added.

Having enjoyed a pretty settled team in the course of winning back-to-back Trench Cups, DkIT have lost some stalwarts from those teams, most significantly Kieran Duffy from Monaghan who captained both of the successes.However, McConville insists the cohort of last year's team remains.

"It (the team) is less experienced, but we have six or seven players who were the nucleus of those Trench Cup winning teams and they not only have experience, but they have the experience of winning.

“We are missing some big names, but the team we have now has probably played together a little bit more and would have a better understanding of each other and sort of playing for each other as much as has been the case in the six-years that I've been there.

"This is my sixth year and it's been steady progress, but we have attracted better players over the last number of years.

"We would have had a sprinkling of inter-county players over the years, but I suppose the numbers of inter-county players has now increased and we have won two Trench Cups which was amazing for the College, but you realise that you have to take the step up then and that's daunting because you feel as if you're a strong team before realising that every single member of DCU or some of these panels are all established, inter-county players.

"And, how I've seen us struggle in the past is when a lot of these other colleges have a lot of masters students so physically we would have been found wanting, but we definitely have improved and it's great for us to be up there and to be testing ourselves against better players. It's what I wanted to do and what we wanted to do since I took the job," said McConville.

While it will not be DkIT's main motive going into tonight's encounter, the carrot of hosting DCU in the next round is something McConville wants his charges to grasp.

"DCU have handed out a number of drubbings over the last number of years and they would probably say that they were caught by St. Mary's last year, but, in previous years, they would have handed out some serious drubbings to teams who would have thought they could compete with them.

"The only thing in my mind is that if we can get past Trinity, we would have DCU at home in Dundalk and just for the College, and for us pitting our wits against them, it would be significant to play against them. I suppose it would give us a real indication of where we are at."