Long-serving Armagh hurler Simon Doherty faces a unique challenge this weekend when the Ulster University side he manages takes on the Armagh side he plays for.
“I play for Armagh, but I’m also the Ulster University manager, so it’ll be an interesting one but I’ really looking forward to the game on Saturday” Doherty told Jerome Quinn.
“It’s interesting coming from both camps, we’re actually heading to training this evening (UU) and I’m training with Armagh tomorrow evening, so I’m sure I’ll get a bit of stick one way or another.
“Some of the Jordanstown (UU) guys actually said, ‘I hope you are playing so we can get a good go at you’, but I’ll be on the sideline for Jordanstown on Saturday.”
The two sides meet in the opening round of the pre-season competition, The McGurk Cup. Named after former Queens and St John’s Belfast player Conor McGurk, and involving kids from Carryduff, the competition is in its fifth year and is hosted by Queens but also includes UU, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Down and Armagh with the final being played on January 12.
“I think it’s absolutely brilliant. We’ve had very good success with Ulster University over the last number of years, we’ve got to the final before, and we really want to compete well in this competition.” Doherty said.
“From an Armagh point of view, we’ve also got to the final before, and we are looking forward to the National League, I think it’s perfect preparation for both Armagh and Ulster University.”
Conor McGurk was a member of the university hurling club, playing in two Fitzgibbon finals as well as twice being selected as a goalkeeper on Combined University teams, the highest accolade in Higher Education hurling.
Simon Doherty is also a St. John’s Belfast goalkeeper, so he feels very proud to be representing McGurk’s legacy this weekend.
“I couldn’t credit Queens University enough, the McGurk family was here this evening and it’s a wonderful thing for them.
“I’m a proud Ulster University man, I’m a proud Armagh man, and I’m a proud St. John’s man as well. Representing Conor McGurk who was a St.John’s player, a goalkeeper, it’s a great tournament.”
Despite the sticky situation Simon Doherty finds himself in this weekend, there is no doubt as to who he wants to win the game.
“We’ll see how things go on Saturday, it’ll be a great contest.” Doherty said.
“I’ll not stay neutral, I’ll have my Ulster University hat on, it’ll be an interesting one.”