First year Finance student Jack O’Sullivan has raised plenty of knowing eyebrows this year with his displays in the back row for the Ireland Under 20 side in the Six Nations, picking up man of the match awards in two of the five games against Wales and Scotland. The ex-PBC skipper has also been an impressive force at No 8 for College in Division 1B of the All-Ireland league this season.
“The thing you’ve got to say is that consistency of performance is the biggest thing for him now. He has taken his opportunity. He has been a huge bonus for us,” said Ireland Under 20 coach Noel McNamara.
O’Sullivan’s colleague John Poland is also recognised in the annual UCC Sports awards, which are supported by Bank of Ireland and the River Lee Hotel. The UCC scrum-half has used 16 starts in the UBL to propel him to six British and Irish Cup appearances for Munster this season, and the Cork lad made a significant breakthrough with an impressive 20-minute appearance for Munster in February’s PRO14 win over Zebre.
All-Ireland winning defender and dual talent Libby Coppinger is another standout recipient tonight at the DeVere Hall. She was part of the Cork side that won a tense All-Ireland camogie final over Kilkenny last September and has shown strong support for UCC when her services have been sought by more than one team. Bantry’s Emma Spillane was Cork’s only Ladies Football All-Star last season, and she also picks up a UCC award.
Frustrated by injury though he might be at present, no-one can gainsay the remarkable 2017 enjoyed by Cork football talent Sean Powter. The Douglas dynamo scored one of the goals of the season in the Rebels’ frustrating one-point defeat to Mayo in the All-Ireland qualifiers and was nominated for the GAA’s Young Player of the Year award as well as an All-Star. His form earned him a call-up as the youngest member of Ireland’s International Rules squad which travelled to Australia for a two-test series – starting the second.
Hockey in UCC is thriving, with two award recipients - Jenny Clein and Sam Grace – both being capped internationally at Under-21 level. There is a lot expected too of rower Ronan Byrne, who has established himself, at 19, as the country’s lead heavyweight rower this season.
Still on the water, civil engineering student Fionn Lyden was named Afloat magazine’s ‘Sailor of the year’ last August, a singular honour for the All-Ireland Championship winner.
Shane Daly Butz has been an integral part of UCC’s recent soccer success, and their skipper will also be recognised tonight, alongside Cork City’s cup final winning captain Ciara McNamara. The third year student was named on the team of the year for the 2017 Women’s National League season.
Libby Coppinger (Camogie and Ladies Football); Sean Powter (Gaelic Football) Sam Grace (Hockey); Jenny Clein (Hockey); Emma Spillane (Ladies Football); Ciara McNamara (Soccer); Ronan Byrne (Rowing); Jack O’Sullivan (Rugby); John Poland (Rugby); Fionn Lyden (Sailing) and Shane Daly Butz (Soccer).