GAA action at third level has offered plenty of thrills in recent years for Cork players, from Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup success for UCC to CIT's superb display in February of last year to capture the Trench Cup final.
However, in an expected development, the GAA’s Higher Education committee have confirmed no championships will take place this academic year.
Until the recent surge in Covid cases at Christmas, there had been hopes the Electric Ireland sponsored competitions could be run off before the spring but those are no longer realistic.
The UCC hurlers would have been going for three in a row in the Fitzgibbon Cup. The likes of Robbie O'Flynn, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Mark Coleman and Shane Kingston had shone in the Fitz across the previous two seasons, as well as Kilkenny midfielder Conor Browne, Kerry wizard Shane Conway and Limerick powerhouse Paddy O'Loughlin.
The most important thing to note is that the student players want these competitions, whenever they are played. We must make huge efforts to facilitate the playing of Fitzgibbon, Sigerson, Ashbourne and O’Connor. Very important to keep 3rd Level GAA strong. https://t.co/jHHigJ9r81— UCC GAA (@ucc_gaa) January 13, 2021
In a statement to the GAA website, the governing body of student GAA explained:
'The committee had been hopeful of staging a comprehensive programme of games, including the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups, but given the current landscape in the country and the public health difficulties, this will not be possible.
'While extremely disappointed to have to make the decision, they have done so to protect public health and all of our members. While this means there will be no matches played in the remainder of the academic year, the body have committed to a consultation process with key stakeholders in the hope that some of the disappointing outcomes of 2020/2021 can be offset going forward.
'Higher Education GAA wish to thank our sponsors Electric Ireland, all the colleges, the clubs, students, students unions and the hard-working development officers for their understanding and their ongoing commitment to our sector.'
They will look at their options for next season, which are likely to include a competition for Second Years to cater to Freshers who missed out in recent months.
"There is a lot of uncertainty about when games will recommence at club and county level and what the calendar will look like in 2021 but as the situation becomes clearer, we will work with the clubs, colleges, development officers and all stakeholders to try and find ways to mitigate against the effects of our students not having had any games this academic year and we are really looking forward to a return to play in October," said chairman Michael Hyland said.
"We are looking forward to securing the space in the GAA calendar for third level for Sigerson and Fitzgibbon and thank everyone for their support in securing these dates which can only help all our students, clubs and our sector generally.
"Finally I would like to wish all our players well for the studies in the year and would like to wish all those involved in our sector the very best and good health as we get through Covid 19."