The Cork senior football championship gets underway this evening, as college sides UCC and Cork IT go head to head, but the teams will be vastly different from those which met in the Sigerson Cup quarter-finals.
UCC, who went on to claim the title, will be without as many as 10 members of the side which began that day. Luke Connolly, David Nation, Alan Cronin, Ian Maguire, Conor Dorman and Brian Shanahan all play for senior clubs in Cork while Kerry stars Brian Kelly, David Culhane, Paul Geaney and Conor Cox may not be available and Tipperary’s Michael Quinlivan is also ruled out ahead of next week’s Munster U21FC final with Cork.
They can still call upon Cork players in Tomás Clancy and Brian O’Driscoll (injury permitting) while freshers Andrew Murphy and Chris Desmond should feature. Indeed, manager Paul O’Keeffe admits the game is almost being used as a testing ground for next year’s Sigerson.
“When you’re missing so many players, it gives an opportunity to other lads, and we’ll get to see the freshers in action,” said O’Keeffe. “They’ll be looking to put themselves in the picture for the Sigerson. This time of the year is difficult for us, but CIT are in the same boat, a lot of the time it comes down to luck of the draw.”
CIT are also missing big names who will line out for their clubs. Donal Óg Hodnett, Thomas Hegarty, David Hanrahan, Shane McCarthy and Brian O’Regan are all absent while Cork U21 star Cathal Vaughan remains out injured. They will look to Peter Daly, Rory O’Sullivan, John Corkery, Kerry’s Brendan O’Sullivan, and Limerick senior Darragh Treacy.
While UCC emerged victorious in the Sigerson, O’Keeffe has not forgotten the pain of last year’s county championship loss to CIT.
“The game came at a bad time,” he said, “Fellas were in the middle of final exams and you could see they were out on their feet. That it’s CIT we’re playing gives it an extra edge though, they’ll want revenge for the Sigerson and we certainly haven’t forgotten last year.”
CIT’s extra-time win over UCC last year was the first time they had beaten their rivals in a football championship tie.