Colleges playing key role for Rebels

Of the 40 players who saw game-time in the 2012 Fitzgibbon Cup final between UCC and Cork IT, 13 are now part of Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s Cork senior hurling squad.

Colleges playing key role for Rebels

While today’s Sigerson Cup quarter-final between the two Cork colleges at the Mardyke (throw-in 3.30pm) will not be as plentiful in terms of current intercounty players, there are signs the future looks to be similarly bright.

Nine of the UCC starting 15 in last week’s first-round win over Trinity College were from Cork, while CIT used a total of 13 Rebels in seeing off their Carlow counterparts. With new Cork manager Brian Cuthbert giving youth its head, UCC selector John Corcoran feels that the colleges can play a key role.

“If you look at last Sunday against Kildare” he said, “at one stage you had Conor Dorman, Alan Cronin, Brian O’Driscoll, Donal Óg Hodnett and Cathal Vaughan all on the field, that’s three UCC players and two from CIT, and Tom Clancy from Fermoy would have been there only that he’s injured.

“It’s the ideal preparation for intercounty football, it’s the next step and if a fella can make a mark on the Sigerson, he’s certainly well-prepared for intercounty. When you get to the weekend, where you play on consecutive days, you have to be mentally and physically tough to win one.

“There are a lot U21s too, there’s a huge chance for fellas to catch the eye of various intercounty selectors. It’s a stepping stone to greater things and the history of intercounty football is littered with players who made their name in the Sigerson.”

Since Billy Morgan took over as manager of UCC, with Corcoran as a selector, they have had an excellent Sigerson record. Home advantage makes them favourites, though Corcoran isn’t relying on it.

“I suppose it mightn’t make too much of a difference, given that both teams are from Cork,” he said, “but at the end of the day we’d be hoping that the ’Dyke would be something of a fortress for us.”

“We like playing there and since this management took over in 2010 we have a good record there.

“This is our fifth year in charge and we’ve gone to four finals weekends in the previous four years. We won one, lost two finals and lost another semi-final, but that’s not to say that we’ll definitely be there. We have a tough game coming up and CIT will be a difficult team to beat.”

Pressure on UCC to maintain the proud recent record is there, but Corcoran is keen to point out that it is not the primary motivator.

“I think, regardless, it will have its own inherent pressures anyway,” he said.

“It’s a local derby and there’s a lot of pride at stake. Most of the lads will know each other, both from having played together for Cork and then against each other and club and college level.”

“It’s the final chance for them to get to a weekend so that’s another motivating factor on both sides. There’ll always be pressure there but you have to embrace that, there’s a big prize there and the team which reacts the better will probably be the one that wins.”


Ian Maguire (UCC)

The St Finbarr’s man is a strong presence at midfield, well able to win ball but also capable of using it intelligently. Still U21, he is on the radar of Cork manager Brian Cuthbert and will surely feature at senior level sooner rather than later.

Luke Connolly (UCC)

Though not on the Cork panel for the league, the Nemo Rangers attacker is still young enough to make an impression, having just emerged from U21. With fellow half-forwards Alan Cronin and Brian O’Driscoll working hard to help the defence, Connolly is afforded the space to roam and can be explosive when in possession.

John Corkery (CIT)

While he was only used as a sub against IT Carlow last week, he managed to score a goal when introduced and will push hard for inclusion today. Likely to star for the Cork U21s this year, he is deadly from frees and was a central figure in Aghabullogue’s journey to the IFC final in 2013.

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