THE SIGERSON CUP reaches the semi-final stage tomorrow with NUI Maynooth, UCC, UCD and UUJ all vying for a place in Saturday’s final.
Here’s how we rank the quartet before the games.
Who are their inter-county stars… 2013 Footballer of the Year Michael Dara Macauley is a standout figure while he is joined by fellow Dub Eric Lowndes. Donegal’s Paddy McBrearty and Meath’s Eamonn Wallace offer serious attacking threats. While there’s a considerable Kildare contingent in Mark Donnellan, David Hyland, Fergal Conway, Paul Cribben and Paddy Brophy.
Their route to this stage… After thumping IT Blanchardstown by 17 points in their opener, NUI Maynooth had to work hard to make a successful raid in the west when they got the better of GMIT last week by 1-10 to 0-9.
What’s their Sigerson Cup history… 1976 was the only year when Maynooth carried off the honours with a final win over UCD. Two years ago they reached the final but were convincingly beaten by DCU.
What are the bookies saying… They’re rated at evens when facing UCC tomorrow and are 7/2 to lift the overall crown.
Verdict… Strengthened by the addition of Macauley this year while McBrearty, Wallace and Brophy provide a great cutting edge up front. UCC will be a big test tomorrow in an intriguing semi-final clash.
Who are their inter-county stars… Their team has a collection of current Cork senior players (Conor Dorman, Alan Cronin, Brian O’Driscoll and Tom Clancy) and Kerry senior players (Brian Kelly, David Culhane, Conor Cox and Paul Geaney). Tipperary’s Michael Quinlivan is at the forefront in attack as well.
Their route to this stage… UCC’s first clash with Trinity College was postponed due to the weather before they won the re-arranged tie by 1-14 to 1-7. Then they took care of their local rivals Cork IT on home soil in the Mardyke by 1-13 to 1-5, to book their berth at the weekend stage.
What’s their Sigerson Cup history… With 20 crowns to their name, UCC have a fine tradition. Recently they won the competition in 2011 while they lost last year’s final to DIT and the 2010 decider against DCU.
What are the bookies saying… Billy Morgan’s team are evens for tomorrow’s semi-final and are 5/1 to take the silverware.
Verdict… Under the guidance of Morgan, UCC have progressed and are contest their fifth successive finals weekend. There’s a good balance to their team with the full-forward line of Cox, Quinlivan and Geaney particularly menacing. After slipping up at the semi-final stage two years ago against NUI Maynooth, they will be wary of tomorrow’s opponents.
Who are their inter-county stars… Dublin’s All-Ireland senior winners Jack McCaffrey and Paul Mannion are the standout names. There’s a strong Meath contingent as well in Padraic Harnan, Ciaran Lenehan and Conor Sheridan. Monaghan’s Ryan Wylie, Wexford’s Matthew O’Hanlon and Laois player Paul Kingston are others to keep an eye on.
Their route to this stage… UCD took care of Athlone IT in their opener away from home by 0-17 to 2-7. Then they showed their credentials in a thrilling clash against DCU before winning by 3-11 to 3-10 in last week’s quarter-final.
What’s their Sigerson Cup history… The competition specialists with 32 titles to their credit but UCD have not lifted the trophy since 1996. They have lost out in finals in 2000, 2001 and 2003.
What are the bookies saying… 10/3 outsiders for their meeting with UUJ and 5/1 to win the championship.
Verdict… Managed by John Divilly, who steered NUI Maynooth to the 2012 final, UCD’s team are young and dynamic. But they have a tough semi-final in store against the competition favourites and may lack experience.
Who are their inter-county stars… The Jordanstown team is packed with marquee figures. Rory Beggan, Colin Walshe and Kieran Hughes all won Ulster senior medals with Monaghan last summer. Matthew Donnelly, Ronan O’Neill and Conor McAliskey are key players for Tyrone. Derry’s Chrissy McKaigue, Antrim’s Niall McKeever and Armagh’s Jamie Clarke are other big names to watch.
Their route to this stage… Jordanstown accounted for IT Sligo in their first game with a 1-14 to 0-11 success. Then they travelled to Dublin where they face the reigning champions DIT and showed their mettle as they claimed a 1-9 to 1-6 win.
What’s their Sigerson Cup history… Jordanstown have won the title five times, their most recent arriving in 2008 against Queen’s University. They lost the 2011 decider to UCC.
What are the bookies saying… Strong favourites at 2/7 to win their semi-final tomorrow and the favourites at 8/11 to lift the title on Saturday.
Verdict… Have a powerful squad and as the only Belfast college still in the competition, will be motivated to deliver. Showed resilience to win their two games to date.