Sigerson Cup: UL have tall order in preparing to get over UCD

Final weekend hosts Jordanstown should have the edge in semi-final against DCU

This year's Sigerson Cup final weekend takes place in Jordanstown with the outcome looking reasonably in the balance. University of Limerick caused more than a few raised eyebrows by surviving the Queen's fightback to win their quarter-final.

They take their semi-final place as outsiders for the tournament and face up to cup favourites UCD. The Belfield side have a range of well-known players, most prominently current Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey but he has high-wattage back-up from the likes of three-time Dublin All-Ireland winning team-mate Michael Fitzsimons.

It was UCD's attack who did the damage when beating UCC in the quarter-finals and again there are high-profile names, such as another Dublin All-Ireland medallist Paul Mannion and Westmeath's kingpin John Heslin.

UL's victory was built on Bryan O'Shea's marksmanship, which helped them establish a big lead that ultimately gave them enough in hand not to surrender the lead. O'Shea's eight points, two from play, earned the Limerick college a first Sigerson weekend since 1997 when, featuring two other Kerry sharp shooters Dara Ó Cinnéide and Michael Francis Russell, they reached the final only – ironically to lose to Tralee RTC.


Attacking verve

They’ll be up against it on Friday afternoon, at 1.0 in Jordanstown. They have a strong centrefield with Cork’s Ruairí Deane and Limerick Gearóid Hegarty but they’re unlikely to get off to such a good start against the Dublin college, whose attacking verve should see them into Saturday’s final.

The second semi-final, at 3.0, promises to be a tighter affair. Holders DCU are up against the hosts and if their quarter-final win was ultimately untroubled after a feisty first-half from opponents IT Carlow they proved last year to be masters of the end game.

They are exceptionally strong in the middle third with the experience of Laois's Colm Begley and Dublin's Shane Carthy complementing half forwards of the calibre of Michael Quinn and current Young Footballer of the Year Diarmuid O'Connor – all with Tipperary's under-21 stand-out Steven O'Brien coming off the bench.

Monaghan senior Shane Carey has been supplying the cutting edge and it's hard to write them off.

Hosts UUJ are, however, favourites to reach the final. The Jordanstown side have another galactico line-up with a fine defence featuring Tyrone's Ronan McNamee and Cavan's Killian Clarke as well as Ryan McHugh from Donegal.

It's the full-forward line that most catches the eye. McHugh's club and county colleague Patrick McBreaty and Mayo's Evan Regan are anchored by Monaghan's Kieran Hughes.

It promises to be a fascinating semi-final with the hosts maybe just about worth their favourites’ rating, particularly with home advantage.

The GAA have also announced the details for the All-Ireland club finals at Croke Park on St Patrick's Day. The hurling match between Limerick champions Na Piarsaigh and Cushendall from Antrim will throw in at 2.0pm whereas the football final between Castlebar Mitchels of Mayo and Dublin's Ballyboden St Enda's starts two hours later at 4.0 pm.

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times