11 players to watch out for in this year's Sigerson Cup
Here’s a selection of stars we’ll be keeping a close eye on during the prestigious third-level competition.

THE SIGERSON CUP begins tomorrow and the race for glory is sure to grab the attention of football fans across the country.

Dublin City University begin the campaign as holders but star-studded Ulster University are favourites to claim this year’s title.

Here, we take a look at just 11 of many intercounty stars who will have a big say over the coming days and weeks.

1. Paul Mannion – (UCD – Dublin)

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

It’s a big campaign ahead for Mannion, who spent much of last year in China.

The Kilmacud Crokes attacker will hope to force his way back into a potent Dublin attack but can stake a real claim for inclusion with strong performances for UCD during the Sigerson Cup campaign.

UCD will meet Trinity College or NUI Galway in the last 16 of the competition and with Mannion in tow, along with Dublin teammate Jack McCaffrey, they’ll fancy their chances.

2. Cian Breheny (DCU – Sligo)

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Cian Breheny made quite an impact for Sligo on his senior championship debut in 2015, scoring two points against Roscommon as the Yeats men progressed to a Connacht final.

He played alongside his uncle Mark in that game and Breheny, son of former Sligo boss Tommy and nephew of Eamonn O’Hara, is a player to watch out for in the Sigerson Cup campaign, as he looks to make an impact with champions DCU.

Breheny made his debut at midfield against Clare in last year’s Allianz Football League campaign but the player who enjoyed a two-week trial with AFL side Hawthorn Hawks in 2014 can also operate effectively in attack.

3. Conor O’Shea – (NUI Galway – Mayo)

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

It’s a big year too for Conor O’Shea, the newest member of the O’Shea clan to emerge and stake a claim for Mayo.

Younger brother of Seamie and Aidan, Conor is plying his third-level trade with NUI Galway, where he is a final year student.

The Breaffy man is a key member of the NUIG side in preliminary round action against Trinity College on Tuesday evening.

4. Evan O’Carroll – (Maynooth University – Laois)

Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

O’Carroll scored the winning point for Maynooth in their O’Byrne Cup victory over Westmeath and will be hoping to carry his promising form into the Sigerson Cup campaign.

A player who can operate at midfield or virtually anywhere in the forward division, O’Carroll has emerged from the underage ranks in Laois and made his senior debut in the All-Ireland SFC qualifier victory over Wexford in 2013.

Tipped to enjoy a big year for the Laois seniors under new boss Mick Lillis, Crettyard clubman O’Carroll and Maynooth will look to see off Queen’s University in Tuesday evening’s first round clash – and have been installed as favourites with the bookies to do so.

5. Neil Collins – (Dublin IT – Roscommon)

Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

A two-time previous Sigerson Cup winner with DCU, Collins is now aiming for a third title, this time in the colours of DIT.

A no nonsense defender, capable of operating in the full-back or half-back lines, Collins was solid for Roscommon en route to promotion and Division 2 Allianz League glory last year.

Collins will bring a steely edge to the DIT defence and the Castlrea man is also well known in the fashion industry with his business Cryptic Clique. 

6. Ciaran Kilkenny – (St Pat’s Drumcondra – Dublin)

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

St Pat’s Drumcondra take on GMIT in Wednesday’s preliminary round tie and one of their key men is Dublin star Ciaran Kilkenny.

A former dual star in the underage ranks, Kilkenny is now regarded as one of the country’s finest footballers, having committed exclusively to the round ball code at senior level in recent times.

Kilkenny is joined in the St Pat’s ranks by other well-known intercounty stars such as Roscommon’s Diarmuid Murtagh, Galway’s Adrian Varley and Hugh McFadden from Donegal.

7. Evan Regan (Ulster University – Mayo)

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

As a new broom sweeps clean in Mayo, Evan Regan will fancy his chances of making an impact in Stephen Rochford’s new regime.

The impish corner forward has been marked out as a class act for a while now but the time has come for Regan to make a consistent impact at elite level.

In a star-studded Ulster University set-up containing the likes of Rory Beggan (Monaghan), Ronan McNamee (Tyrone), Ryan McHugh (Donegal), Kieran Hughes (Monaghan) and Patrick McBrearty (Donegal), Regan will be eager to impress.

8. Peter Kelleher (CIT – Cork)

Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Kelleher netted goals either side of half-time in last year’s Munster U21 football final but those strikes weren’t enough to prevent defeat against Tipperary.

The Kilmichael man is still eligible for the U21 grade this year and appeared as a substitute in last Friday night’s McGrath Cup final win for Peadar Healy’s senior team.

In a CIT camp laced with some genuine quality, noted dual player Kelleher is one to keep an eye out for. 

9. Marty Clarke (Queen’s University – Down)

Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

Queen’s University last won the Sigerson Cup in 2007 and are a 20-1 shot with the bookies to end that drought.

One of their key men is Down star Marty Clarke, who is concentrating on third-level commitments before a possible return to county colours.

Clarke suffers from Addison’s Disease and is taking a softly-softly approach with his intercounty future, as the An Ríocht clubman hasn’t lined out for the Mourne men since returning from an AFL stint in 2014.

10. Ian Burke (UL – Galway)

Cathal Noonan / INPHO Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

As Corofin stormed to All-Ireland club glory last year, Ian Burke was unavailable for University of Limerick’s Sigerson Cup campaign.

But the prolific corner forward is part of the UL panel as they prepare for a last 16 fixture against IT Tralee.

UL will fancy their chances of making the quarter-finals as Burke is joined by other key players such as Gearoid Hegarty (Limerick), Ruairi Deane (Cork), Niall McDermott (Cavan) and Kerry pair Cathal Long and Eamonn Kiely.

11. Conor Dorman (UCC – Cork)

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Dorman is very much a player who likes to operate on the front foot.

The attacking half-back made his Cork senior debut against Westmeath in the 2014 Allianz League and the former captain is a three-time Munster medallist in the U21 grade.

A fourth year student at UCC, Dorman was one of Cork’s best players during last year’s League campaign and the Bishopstown man will be a key figure in Peadar Healy’s new regime on Leeside.

Who are you looking forward to seeing in action during the Sigerson Cup? Leave your feedback in the comments section below…

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