UCC have dominated the 2020 Electric Ireland GAA Higher Education Rising Stars awards, with Shane Kingston selected as the best performer across the Fitzgibbon Cup series.
Six players from the College were picked as the Cork hurling powerhouse retained their crown: Kingston, Robert Downey, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Mark Coleman along with Limerick's Paddy O'Loughlin and Kerry's Shane Conway.
Another Leesider, Tim O'Mahony, also made the cut after his exploits with semi-finalists Mary I. Interestingly the Newtown club man who has played in various positions for Cork was handed the number 15 geansaí on this occasion.
Understandably the ceremony to honour hurling's Rising Stars won't take place this spring due to the Coronavirus epidemic.
Shane Kingston was a worthy winner of the best player gong, nailing 0-4 from play in the Fitzgibbon Cup decider against IT Carlow and leading the line in every game. O'Loughlin, who lorded the skies from the half-back line, and Kingdom wizard Conway were other strong contenders here.
Coleman's magic moment came in the semi-final against DCU, his soaring sideline securing the victory at the death.
Fitzgibbon was excellent in the final when UCC were reduced to 14 players in the last quarter, while Downey also stood out in this sequence when operating in the middle third, though for the bulk of the campaign Tom Kingston and his selectors deployed him at full-back.
Electric Ireland Higher Education GAA Rising Stars 2020:
1. Oisin Foley: DCU, Crossabeg Ballymurn, Wexford
2. Shane Reck: IT Carlow, Oylegate Glenbrien, Wexford
3. Robert Downey: UCC, Glen Rovers
4. Eanna McBride: Mary Immaculate, JK Brackens, Tipperary
5. Paddy O'Loughlin: UCC, Kilmallock
6. Conor Burke: DCU DÉ, St Vincent’s, Dublin
7. Mark Coleman: UCC, Blarney
8. Darragh Fitzgibbon: UCC, Charleville
9. Richie Leahy: IT Carlow, Rower Inistioge, Kilkenny
10. Rory O'Connor: DCU, St Martin's, Wexford
11. Shane Conway: UCC, Lixnaw
12. Cathal Dunbar: IT Carlow, Naomh Éanna, Wexford
13. Chris Nolan: IT Carlow, Mount Leinster Rangers, Carlow
14. Shane Kingston: UCC, Douglas
15. Tim O'Mahony: Mary Immaculate, Newtownshandrum
Marguerite Sayers, executive director, Electric Ireland, commented: “We are happy to announce the Electric Ireland Higher Education GAA Rising Stars 2020 Hurling Team of the Year.
"While it is unfortunate that due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic we will not be able to recognise the players through the annual Electric Ireland GAA Higher Education Rising Stars Awards Ceremony, the health and well-being of the players and their families is the top priority for both ourselves as sponsors and the GAA.
"We remain determined to spotlight 15 standout performances in these highly coveted competitions. 2020 was another thrilling season and it’s a pleasure to be able to support these players as they combine their studies with life on and off the pitch.”
GAA president John Horan said: “I would like to congratulate Shane Kingston and the Electric Ireland Higher Education GAA Rising Stars Hurling Team of The Year 2020 on their incredible achievements during 2020 Higher Education Hurling season.Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we will not be able to honour these young men in front of their families, friends and coaches, however, they should all be very proud of what they have done in 2020.
"They are a credit to their club, county and most importantly, their third-level institution.”