THE strong links that have always existed between the UCC Fitzgibbon Cup hurling teams and St Francis College Rochestown were further strengthened recently when former past pupils Shane Kingston and David Griffin brought the trophy back to the college.
And that was only right and proper as the man who presented the trophy, Brother Edwin Fitzgibbon is buried in the grounds of the Southside College.
The famed trophy was back last week after this season’s thrilling exploits and placed on the grave by the young former Rochestown college players, team boss Tom Kingston, GAA Development Officer in UCC and Dr Paddy Crowley whose name is synonymous with UCC down the years as a former star player, team manager, mentor and team doctor.
At the ceremony in Rochestown College last week, college principal Marie Ring spoke of the pride in the links that existed between both academies.
“We are extremely proud of the link and of the contribution that former players of our college have made to UCC.
“The fact that three of them are here today for the second year in a row with the Fitzgibbon Cup and to be able to take it out to Edwin’s grave is very special.
“As a school we pride ourselves in balancing the academic excellence with the development of the person.
“The boys here are given fantastic opportunities by their teachers to engage in all types of sports and hurling, obviously, has a very special place in the school.’’
The link, according to Mrs Ring, goes back a very long time and the relationship between the two great sporting academies continues to be extended on a yearly basis.
“It goes back a long time and last year we had players with both Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup medals and just in talking to our current Leaving Certs, they are aspiring to move on to third level next year and, hopefully, when they proceed to UCC the link with the Fitzgibbon will continue as they continue the link with their studies.
Whilst the academic side of things is first and foremost in the life of the young students in Rochestown, the GAA plays an integral role too, she said.
“Absolutely, we were in the Harty Cup this year, we won the Tom Colum Cup last year and that was a fantastic occasion for the school.
“Our under-15 hurlers won the Munster ‘A’, last year, we made it to the semi-final of the Corn Ui Mhuiri so we are competing at the highest level in both codes thanks to the teachers and their generosity with their time with the boys.
“Having an interest outside of academics so that their life can be balanced, getting out in the fresh air. Learning team spirit, learning how to win and how to lose too, that’s very important.
“We also play basketball here, we play soccer and we have two teams who have made it to the Munster finals, there’s so much on offer here in the school for our students, there’s something for everybody to find their true talent to develop’’
Having role models like Shane Kingston, David Griffin and Alan Cadogan, who is a teacher in the school, is very important too for the current pupils.
“Of course, that is important and it shows that you can continue with your studies and still compete in sport at the highest level and get the best mix out of life that you can possibly get.’’
Meanwhile, addressing the Leaving Cert students afterwards in the school library, UCC’s John Grainger told them that they should be very proud of the players from the college who are representing UCC every year and he hoped that a lot of the current pupil population in the college would go on to follow their footsteps when they move on to third-level education.
“Firstly, the association between Rochestown and UCC is very important. Some of our best hurlers down the years in UCC have come through the system here in Rochestown.
“The link is very strong and I hope it will continue into the future. Both colleges have a common goal to try and ensure that the students get the best academically and to be able to pursue the sport that they choose.
“Having Shane Kingston and David Griffin here today, two great ambassadors for the school is very important and I hope that when you guys complete the Leaving Cert we will see you wearing the jersey of UCC in whatever sport ye choose.’’