UCC’s Rickard Cahalane says that though Canon Michael O’Brien passed away three years ago, his memory is part of the fabric of the college hurling club.
“Big time, we’d all have heard the stories. Even in my own club (Ballymartle) the lads who would have played Fitzgibbon themselves in their own time with UCC, Seamus Corry and lads like that, they’ve had all said it — how much Canon O’Brien influenced them.
“In that sense he’s still around, and still an influence. He’s someone who’s mentioned if you’re playing in a game, and somebody like John (Granger, UCC sports officer) would mention him a lot, certainly.”
Commerce student David Griffin concurs with Cahalane: “Absolutely, you only have to see what the Canon won in his own time coaching, the Harty Cups, the Fitzgibbon Cups, All-Irelands. He’s a huge part of the tradition of UCC hurling.
“Our first game is against CIT the week after next, so tonight’s game is an ideal chance for us to start getting ready for that, a tough game against a quality side — we’re all looking forward to it.”
Cahalane points out that though it’s early in the season, there’s plenty at stake for both teams, with players in the two camps keen to get themselves noticed.
“This is a great tradition, the Canon O’Brien Cup, but as David says it’s also a great opportunity for lads on both panels to make a statement,” said the chemistry student.
“On both panels you’ll have lads who are trying to make a name for themselves — for the Fitzgibbon panel on one hand and the Cork senior panel on the other.
“In that sense it’s ideal for both sides, because even for the time of year it’s always a high-tempo game, and the standard for the last couple of years has always been pretty high.
“Lads are happy to play in it because there’s a bit at stake for them, an incentive for them to impress.”
In keeping with past years there is no charge into the Mardyke this evening but spectators are asked to make a donation at to the nominated charity, the Shine Centre of Carrigaline, which works with children with autism.