Saturday 16 December 2017

Morgan's UCC on course for back-to-back titles

Sigerson Cup semi-finals take place this weekend
Sigerson Cup semi-finals take place this weekend
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

UCC v IT Carlow, Mardyke, 4.0, D O'Mahoney (Tipperary) Sigerson Cup semi-final

Whatever way you look at it, reigning champions UCC come into the Sigerson weekend mob handed.

In Billy Morgan they boast an experienced Sigerson Cup campaigner who returns with several of the side that secured glory last year, including Kerry All-Ireland winner Paul Geaney and Cork powerhouse Ian Maguire.

They also enjoy home advantage in the familiar surrounds of the Mardyke and in Carlow IT, have been drawn against the rank outsiders of the last four standing.

Morgan's men looked every bit champions elect in the first round when destroying cross-town rivals CIT 3-15 to 1-6.

They found things a bit tougher against a Sligo IT side who were given an eleventh hour reprieve in the competition after a dispute, though they negotiated that hurdle without either Maguire or Geaney.

Both men are available this weekend.

The Carlow men have shown real grit and organisation to make it this far, conceding a total of just 0-17 in two games against IT Tralee and UL.

Injury has forced star Carlow midfielder Brendan Murphy to miss both games in the competition so far and it's unclear whether he'll feature this weekend.

If he misses out, it makes an already difficult task harder for the side managed by former Laois star Noel Garvan.

They'll need more superb defensive work to shut down a potent UCC side but it looks like the Cork side will be going into the final on the back of a comprehensive win.

Odds: UCC 1/16, IT Carlow 15/2, Draw 16/1

Verdict: UCC

McCaffrey to give UCD forward motion

UCD v DCU, Mardyke, 2.0, R Hickey (Clare) Sigerson Cup semi-final

Every time UCD get to the weekend they are reminded that though they are Sigerson bluebloods who top the roll of honour, they haven't won the competition outright since 1996, when the likes of Trevor Giles powered them to the title.

This is the second year in a row that they have made the last four and there's much of the 2014 side available once more. The likes of John Heslin (Westmeath), Padraic Harnan (Meath) and Niall Kelly (Kildare) have the experience of 12 months ago when they were beaten by UUJ at the semi-finals stage.

Interestingly, UCD manager John Divilly has used captain Jack McCaffrey at centre-forward rather than his more familiar role at wing-back and he starred in that position as they saw off Athlone IT and GMIT on their way to the last four.

On paper, this isn't a vintage DCU side, but though they mightn't boast the household names of before when the likes of Paul Flynn and Michael Murphy were part of the set-up, they must be taken seriously, having won the league earlier in the campaign and seen off fancied UUJ in the first round.

Conor McHugh is a forward of real menace while Colm Begley offers experience. Galway's Tom Flynn is a huge presence in midfield.

Their back room team is impressive too where Niall Moyna is backed up by legendary former Meath boss Sean Boylan.

DCU are clear favourites but UCD, who also collected the All-Ireland Freshers title earlier this week, have been getting better by the game.

There'll likely be little between the sides but UCD might just spring a minor surprise and see the balance of power switch back to the southside of the city.

Odds: DCU 8/13, UCD 17/10, Draw 7/1

Verdict: UCD

Irish Independent

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