Wednesday 22 November 2017

McCaffrey, Tyrone's rising stars and the skull and crossbones - 5 things to look out for on Sigerson final weekend

Jackie Cahill

UCD, UL, St Mary's and UCC are competing for a place in the Sigerson Cup final today - here are five talking points ahead of this afternoon's semi-finals.

1. Jack McCaffrey and friends in action for UCD

12 months ago, UCD ended a 20-year wait for Independent.ie Sigerson Cup glory. And having shaken that monkey from their backs, Dublin star Jack McCaffrey and his colleagues have the scent of glory in their nostrils again.

This evening, they take on University of Limerick in a repeat of last year’s semi-final. And with McCaffrey pulling the strings, along with Dublin colleagues Mick Fitzsimons, Paul Mannion and Colm Basquel, it’s difficult to foresee anything but victory for the champions.

2. Limerick dual star Gearoid Hegarty

Last year, Gearóid Hegarty was faced with a difficult choice – continue to combine dual roles with the Limerick seniors or plump for one code only. He went with hurling, having played a starring role on the Limerick team that stormed to Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 glory in 2015. But Hegarty’s kept his hand in with the University of Limerick footballers, who are back in the Independent.ie Sigerson Cup semi-finals for another crack at heavyweights and holders UCD. And Hegarty was the star turn for UL as they got by Dublin IT at the quarter-final stage to make finals weekend.

3. Tyrone’s rising stars

Friday afternoon’s first Independent.ie Sigerson Cup semi-final pits St Mary’s of Belfast against UCC, who have won the competition 21 times. In contrast, St Mary’s have been crowned champions just once, back in 1989. But St Mary’s accounted for DCU in the quarter-finals and they can’t be discounted. Cathal McShane was a stand-out player for Tyrone when the beat Tipperary in a fiery 2015 EirGrid All-Ireland U21 football final. He’s since graduated to the senior inter-county ranks but he’s not the only Tyrone native leading the St Mary’s Sigerson charge. In the DCU game, Colm Byrne, Conor Meyler and Conall McCann also featured.

4. Match programmes

The Connacht GAA centre of excellence is hosting Independent.ie Sigerson Cup finals weekend and they’ll have worked closely with Higher Education GAA officials to produce a top-class programme for the weekend. Up to now, fans attending matches have been used to photocopied sheets in order to keep tabs on the stars involved in various games and it can be frustrating to learn that the numbers on players’ backs don’t necessarily correspond to the team-lists provided. But each of the four colleges involved in the Sigerson semi-finals will have been warned beforehand to ensure that names and numbers match up – and that should make life a little easier for spectators and media representatives alike.

5. The skull and crossbones

The famous UCC shirt is famed for the skull and crossbones emblazoned on the front. In case opponents were in any doubt, the fearsome image reminds them exactly who they’re up against – one of the most successful colleges in the history of the Independent.ie Sigerson Cup. Billy Morgan’s association with the Sigerson Cup dates back to the 1960s and the Cork legend has Kerry great Tomás Ó Sé lending a hand. UCC were champions last in 2014 and with their hurlers through to Fitzgibbon Cup finals weekend, the footballers will be keen to show the way to their small ball counterparts.

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