(Sigerson Cup winner)
The intensity, pace and quality of the Sigerson Cup has earned it legendary status. The competition is now a shop window for inter-county stars and a medal holds serious gravitas in the world of Gaelic football. Meathman Mick O'Dowd was part of the UCD team that won the Cup in 1996, along with Trevor Giles, Brian Dooher, Ciarán McManus and a host of other greats. They ended UCD's 11-year drought in the competition.
By that stage, O'Dowd had put in five years of Sigerson football but in 1996 everything fell into place. The team was a mix of experienced college players and young guns who were just embarking on their careers.
"There were a few of us who had put down some tough years with UCD, we had been knocking on the door for a number of years. There was a period before 1996 where there were some very good players in the college who just concentrated on their clubs or counties. But that year we put a huge effort into getting fellas involved."
The centre-forward describes his team as a well-balanced, spirited side. They came up against UCC in the 1996 semi-final. The Cork college, led by Kerry great Seamus Moynihan, were vying for three in a row. However, UCD triumphed and set up a date with the Garda College in the final. But the UCD proved too strong and added title number 32 to their tally.
"Playing in those two games was a momentous occasion, it all just came together for us. The management team were all ex-players from the club and I think that added something too."
The former footballer studied Agricultural Science in UCD and while there his life mostly revolved around football. Forming a bond with players from other clubs and counties is part of the essence of the Sigerson and for O'Dowd it's his favourite thing about the competition.
"Back then we trained together for the whole month of January, mornings and evenings. It was super to have that closeness amongst a group for such a sustained period and to go and finish it all by winning the cup, that was brilliant."
O'Dowd is now based in Drogheda and working as an Agri Manager for ACC Rabobank. He was a member of the Meath senior panel in 2001 and played for his local club Skryne, winning four county titles before retiring in 2008.
Sunday Indo Sport