26 Sept 2022

Opinion: Third Level GAA is best left wait until next season - Jerome O'Connell

Opinion: Third Level GAA  is best left wait until next season - Jerome O'Connell

Cian Lynch was due to swap the colours of Mary Immaculate College for NUI Galway

SO the Third Level GAA Championships are cancelled for the 2020/21 academic year.

The flagship Fitzgibbon Cup and Sigerson Cup and their lower level equivalents should be just about underway about now in their regular slot in the opening two months of the year.

With three Limerick sides in the Fitzgibbon Cup hurling championship and UL in the Sigerson Cup football championship, locals were often spoiled for choice and personally there was nothing better than a mid-week knockout tie with a vast array of current and rising talent on show.

But now Covid-19 restrictions leave little room for Third Level GAA Championship and rightly so.

Unfortunately much in our everyday lives and across the sporting world have to give way to this pandemic and I feel the Third Level GAA Championships fall into this category.

Fitzgibbon Cup ties in particular have been among my favourite early season outings but I feel they are best shelved this season.

Most notably most Third Level Colleges are already working remotely and thinking of bringing players from the four corners of the country for training or games is just not ideal.

I’ve seen some talk of perhaps playing the flagship Third Level GAA championships in the Autumn with the registered 2020/21 panels but that doesn’t feel right – many would have graduated and left Third Level and perhaps have even enrolled in another college.

Unfortunately I feel it’s best to cancel the 2020/21 competitions and focus on inter-county and club level for until the 2021/22 Third Level season commences next Autumn.

There are 24 Limerick players registered to play Fitzgibbon Cup across eight different teams.

LIT lead the way with seven players – Cathal Downes (Kildimo-Pallaskenry), Dan Joy (Kilmallock), Eoin Hurley (Newcastle West), Ken Byrnes and Kevin Howard (both Old Christians), Louis Dee (Mungret St Pauls) and Oisin O’Grady (Hospital-Herbertstown).

There were five from Limerick registered in the UL panel – Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), Ciaran Barry (Ahane), Brian O’Grady (Kilteely-Dromkeen), Eoghan Mulcahy (Mungret St Pauls) and Mark Quinlan (Garryspillane).

Patrickswell duo Jason Gillane and Josh Considine are the only Limerick players in the Mary Immaculate College panel that was registered.

UCC were captained to the Fitzgibbon Cup title last February by Paddy O’Loughlin. The Kilmallock man is one of six from Limerick in their panel – Conor and Jerome Boylan and William Henn (all Na Piarsaigh), Ronan Connolly (Adare) and Daithi Heffernan (Blackrock).

Elsewhere, Cian Lynch (Patrickswell) would no doubt have been a star attraction in the colours of NUI Galway and likewise for Seamus Flanagan (Feohanagh-Castlemahon) in UCD.

In DCU is Brian Ryan (South Liberties) and in CIT is Frankie Herr (Effin).

In football’s Sigerson Cup, there were eight from Limerick registered across five sides.

UL had Newcastle West pair Seamus Hurley and Diarmaid Kelly, as wel as Adare’s Paul Maher.

Oran Collins (Adare) is in the UCC panel, while IT Carlow have Tommy Griffin (Gerald Griffins) and Cian Walsh (St Senans).
Completing the list are Eoin O’Mahony (Galbally) in CIT and Cillian Ferris (Ballysteen) in IT Tralee.

While it will be a shame for the 32 from across Limerick not to have Fitzgibbon or Sigerson action, many have already played at this level, while others should still be eligible this time next year.

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