Paul Keaney of UL, and UCC's Dylan Foley and Cathail O'Mahony.

Six players to watch as UCC meet UL in the Sigerson Cup final

A goal-poacher turned goalkeeper from Cork and a free-scoring Leitrim midfielder are among those who could shine in Wednesday’s Sigerson Cup final.

Paul Keaney (St Mary’s Kiltoghert – Leitrim)

Midfielder, Leitrim native, and UL’s top-scorer with 0-19, Paul Keaney has been a reliable free-taker and so much more for the finalists. A fine ball-winner and distributor, Keaney won an All-Ireland basketball title with Carrick-on-Shannon Community School in his younger days.

In their opener against UCC, Keaney kicked three points from play, including some spectacular efforts with the wind at his back as he was named player of the week.

His late point helped UL bring TUD to extra-time and although he was sent-off in their quarter-final epic against University of Galway, he converted seven frees across the hour, off left and right, completed eight successful kick passes, and drew three fouls.


He’s also in demand with Andy Moran as Leitrim push for Division 3 football and was man of the match when St Mary’s Kiltoghert claimed the Leitrim SFC title last October.

Dylan Foley (Éire Óg – Cork)

UCC have no-one more to thank for their place in the Sigerson Cup final than goalkeeper Dylan Foley – a man who didn’t take up the position until last year.

The netminder has saved no less than five penalties as UCC needed penalties to see off Queen’s in round 3 and St Mary’s in the quarter-final.

Foley’s first penalty save came in the opening round, denying UL’s Paul Walsh although the attacker tapped in the rebound.

He made the winning save against Queen’s Luke Donnelly and dancing on the goalline, three more stops from Cormac Murphy, Dara O’Callaghan, and Conor McConville saw them past St Mary’s. He can do it in open play too, twice denying Robbie McAllister in the semi-final.

An outfield player with his club, he scored 1-2 in Éire Óg’s 2020 Cork Senior A football final victory and netted a goal in all three of their group games as they made the 2021 Premier Senior quarter-finals in their first year up.

He first picked up the goalie’s gloves at UCC and his inter-county debut came soon after as a sub for Micheál Aodh Martin against Kerry last summer, making a save from David Clifford to keep his clean sheet.

Ciarán Downes (Kilmihil, Clare)

UL have scored 11-61 in their five games, with most of their goal-scoring threat coming from the Clare inside pair of Ciarán Downes (3-8) and Aaron Griffin (2-3), and Kerryman Paul Walsh (2-9).

Another two-footer like Keaney, Downes scored 1-1 off his left and 0-2 off his right in their semi-final victory over DCU, with the goal a shot from distance after intercepting a sideline kick towards the opposition keeper. He was also credited with winning five turnovers and laying on a goal for Eoghan McLaughlin in an all-round performance.

ciaran-downes-celebrates-scoring Evan Treacy / INPHO Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

He kicked the point that brought TUD to extra-time, blasted two goals against SETU Carlow, and fisted the insurance point in their quarter-final victory over University of Galway.

In Downes, Griffin, Emmet McMahon, and Ikem Ugweuru, UL are honing the next generation of Clare attackers for Colm Collins.

Cathail O’Mahony (Mitchelstown – Cork)

He was busy winning an All-Ireland Junior Hurling title with Ballygiblin when UCC and UL met in the first round but since his reintroduction, Cathail O’Mahony has wasted no time in joining Dylan Geaney as UCC’s top-scorer (1-13 each).

Introduced off the bench in round 2, his run along the endline set up the clinching goal for Seán O’Connor against ATU Galway. As a second-half sub against Queen’s, he kicked 0-4 before slotting two shoot-out penalties.

On from the start against St Mary’s, he drilled a seventh-minute goal after some spectacular footwork to burn two defenders and converted the last-minute levelling free as part of a 1-3 tally. He then had more success from the penalty spot in the shoot-out, firing an unstoppable shot into the left-hand corner.


He scored 0-6 in their semi-final victory over TUD, including UCC’s final four points to hold the Dublin college at arm’s length.

In between those two top-scoring performances, he added 1-1 for Cork against Kildare when introduced as a half-time substitute.

Eoghan McLaughlin (Westport – Mayo)

It’s not all about the UL attack. Since that opening-round victory over UCC, they have been boosted by the returns of Young Footballer of the Year Jack Glynn and Mayo flier Eoghan McLaughlin.

Picked on the Electric Ireland Rising Stars Football Team of the Year as UL got to a first Sigerson final in 2022, McLaughlin has been a driving force as this team aims to go one better.

His run and decisive handpass set up a second-half goal for Aaron Griffin in their semi-final victory over DCU. He then turned from provider to scorer when racing from defence to attack to finish off their clinching third goal with a left-footed rocket to the top corner.


He also set up a goal for Griffin against SETU Carlow with another driving run and his turnovers and transition play will be key for UL again next Wednesday.

Daniel O’Mahony (Knocknagree – Cork)

The rock at the heart of the UCC and Cork defences, Daniel O’Mahony has already played 10 games this year, starting all of them at full-back. That includes all five of UCC’s Sigerson Cup ties and all five of Cork’s McGrath Cup and Allianz League games. He has played in every minute of all but two of those games.

Perhaps making up for lost time after sitting out the 2022 season, there is every indication O’Mahony will be a key player in the Sigerson Cup final and beyond in 2023.

He had the most turnovers of any player in the Sigerson Cup semi-finals (seven) and was dominant in the air as UCC kept their second clean sheet of the competition.


That defensive determination will be needed against UL’s free-scoring goal-getters.

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