UCC hurlers balance club commitments as they prepare to take on Na Piarsaigh

UCC hurlers balance club commitments as they prepare to take on Na Piarsaigh

UCC's Paddy Cadell is tackled by Duhallow's Kevin Tarrant during the Co-Op Superstores Cork divisional/ Colleges hurling championship at Mourneabbey. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

EVERY year, UCC would be looked upon as a side that should be challenging strongly for the Cork County SHC.

That is based very much on the fact that they have at their disposal some of the best hurlers in Cork and much further beyond.

However, it is not that simple and commitments elsewhere can be a significant factor in their progress.

All of the players who put on the famed colours of the Western Road outfit are members of clubs too and on a great number of occasions they are on duty on the same weekend.

That is accepted practice in the college and they just get on with it.

In fact, on some occasions, a player might line out with his club on a Sunday afternoon and subsequently don the UCC colours on Sunday night.

It’s never easy for UCC in the Cork SHC but that does not deter them in any way, they always turn up, give it their best shot and see where that takes them.

Next Sunday night they collide with Na Piarsaigh in the quarter-final of the championship and over half the starting 15 that eliminated three-time champions Imokilly in the last round will be playing club hurling 24 hours earlier.

Among them are Paddy O’Loughlin for Kilmallock in the Limerick SHC, Mark Coleman, Shane Barrett and Padraig Power for Blarney in the Cork PIHC, Karl Walsh from Ballincollig in the same competition, Eoghan Clifford and Brian Verling for Na Cloughduv in the IHC, Dylan Desmond their goalkeeper from Éire Óg in the Cork IAHC and star forward Shane Conway with Finuge in the Kerry IFC.

UCC selector and the GAA development officer in the college John Grainger is therefore hoping that all the aforementioned will come through unscathed to face the men from Farranree on Sunday night.

“Yes, that’s the way it is, that’s the way it has always been.

“But we get on with it, the players have no issue playing twice in 24 hours and they all want to play for UCC if at all possible.

“It’s not an ideal situation but these are fit, young men and provided they don’t pick up injuries they get on with it.’’

Grainger, alongside Tom Kenny and Dr Paddy Crowley, was delighted with how UCC performed against Imokilly a few weeks back and he’s hoping for a similar display this time.

“Look, it was a great win for us. The most pleasing aspect of it was that we showed great character in responding to the late goal that Imokilly got.

“That put us a point down and we were going into stoppage time. But the lads responded with four points on the trot to secure the win for us.

“Many might have thought that we were gone when they got that late goal but we dug in there.

“In the end, it was a great result and a reward for the young players. But it’s past tense now and we must try to do it all over again next Sunday night.

“As they say, one swallow never made a summer."

Imokilly's Niall O'Leary clashes with UCC's Shane Conway during the Premier Senior Hurling Divisional/College final in Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Imokilly's Niall O'Leary clashes with UCC's Shane Conway during the Premier Senior Hurling Divisional/College final in Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Howard Crowdy

And Grainger believes that Na Piarsaigh will be very difficult opponents.

“They are bound to be, they are a proud club and they will see this as a great opportunity to reach a semi-final.

“They were excellent against the ‘Barrs and showed that night what they are capable of and I believe they have great, young hurlers in Daire Connery, Shane Forde and Evan Sheahan.

“I know that Eddie Gunning is a huge loss for them because of injury but they have a good balance to the side.

“The important thing for us, as it was against Imokilly, is to hit the ground running. We got a good start that night and it stood to us as the game went on.

“We are hopeful, we take fierce pride in this championship and it would be great to keep it going.

“Hopefully, we can build on the display we gave against Imokilly.’’

So far, so good then.

“It’s been a great championship, I think, thus far and fellows in all the clubs can now see the end in sight.

“We haven’t won it for a long time and we’d love to do so again but it will be very tough, starting with Na Piarsaigh on Sunday.’’

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