UCC have been drawn with MTU Cork in the first round of the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup.
The opening round will take place on the week commencing January 10, with the winners of the all-Cork clash meeting the victors from MTU Kerry and UCD, and the losers against the losing side. That means there could be an MTU derby in round two, between the Cork and Kerry branches of the third-level body.
The College were Sigerson Cup victors in the modern era in 2011, '14 and '19, while MTU Cork, then known as CIT, were champions in 2009, under the guidance of new Cork football manager Keith Ricken.
In the Fitzgibbon Cup, UCC are in a four-team group with NUIG, Mary I and UCD, MTU Cork have two other sides in their group, Trinity and GMIT.
UCC thrived in the Fitzgibbon Cup over the past decade, winning the last two titles before last season's version was called off due to Covid, along with successes in 2009, 2012 and '13. They beat UCC in a cracking 2012 final after extra time, staged in the Mardyke to celebrate 100 years of the tournament.
In pursuit of a Covid-disrupted three-in-a-row, the College have a host of Cork hurlers in their squad: Rob Downey, Niall O'Leary, Conor Cahalane, Jack O'Connor, Tommy O'Connell, Daire Connery and Shane Barrett. Waterford's Iarlaith Daly, Limerick's Conor Boylan and Tipp's Mark Kehoe and Conor Bowe are also in the registered panel.
Ger Collins, Alan Connolly and Sam Quirke are involved with MTU Cork, as are Cork minor in 2017 Liam O'Shea and Cork U20 keeper Cathal Wilson. Ciarán Joyce, newly elevated to the Cork senior squad, and Jack Cahalane, are also at CIT but as Freshers aren't eligible.
Mirroring the issue with the Championship League draw, due to a procedural error it was necessary to redo the draws for the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cups. Now they've finalised the schedule which will conclude with finals at the Institute of Technology Carlow in February.
The draws for the 2022 competitions took place today at a special event in the host venue of IT Carlow and which will see the concluding stages of the prestigious championships take place in a festival of Gaelic football and hurling activity in the spring of next year.
The matches will be an opportunity for IT Carlow to showcase their impressive new sports facilities on campus, and through the merging of the traditional football and hurling final weekends will see eight finals played over five days and create a festival atmosphere between February 16 and 20.
(A) IT Carlow v LYIT; (B) IT Sligo v UL; (C) TU Dublin v St Mary's; (D) Maynooth U v DCU DE; (E) Queens bye; (F) NUIG v UU; (G) MTU Cork v UCC; (H) MTU Kerry v UCD.
(I) Winners A v Winners B; (J) Winners C v Winners D; (K) Winners E v Winners F; (L) Winners G v Winners H; (M) Losers A v Losers B; (N) Losers C v Losers D; (O) Losers E v Losers F; (P) Losers G v Losers H.
Final on February 16-17.
1 NUIG, 2 UCD, 3 UCC, 4 Mary I.
1 DCU, 2 Maynooth, 3 IT Carlow, 4 WIT.
1 GMIT, 2 Trinity, 3 MTU Cork.
1 UL, 2 TUS MW, 3 TU Dublin
Round 1 on week commencing January 17; final on February 19-20.
Uachtarán CLG Larry McCarthy said: “I know first-hand the important role that our third level colleges and universities play in the promotion of Gaelic games and the great service they do for our Association.
“It was during my formative years as a student in Limerick that I got my first real taste and feel of GAA administration, while on the field I have great memories of being part of wonderful teams that won Ryan and Trench Cups.
“The memories and friendships forged in our Higher Education GAA competitions stand the test of time and hold a value as precious as any cup or medal.
“I am delighted to see the standard of the competitions grow constantly and wish to acknowledge the support of our partners in Electric Ireland for their assistance in promoting these great games and the players who take part. I look forward to seeing the great facilities at IT Carlow.”
Sarah Sharkey, Brand, PR and Sponsorship Manager at Electric Ireland, commented: “We are delighted to see the return of the Electric Ireland Higher Education GAA Championships in 2022. After an absence in 2021, we are excited to see some of the best young GAA talent on display during the upcoming season.
“In 2022, our #FirstClassRivals platform will once again celebrate the unexpected alliances formed through County rivals joining forces in pursuit of one common goal. Now in our fifth year of sponsoring these great championships, we are looking forward to another season of excitement and fierce competition as students across the country compete for some of the most coveted titles in GAA.”
On behalf of the host venue, President Dr Patricia Mulcahy said: “Institute of Technology Carlow has made significant investment in our sporting facilities in recent years and the Electric Ireland Higher Education Gaelic Games Championships will be among the first student events to be hosted on our brand-new €15million South Sports Campus.
"The Fitzgibbon Cup and Sigerson Cup Finals are some of the oldest and most famous competitions in the Irish sporting calendar and we in Institute of Technology Carlow are particularly proud to host them in 2022.”
After the absence of games due to Covid restrictions, the return of matches has been warmly welcomed and will continue the proud history of Higher Education Gaelic games.
They can be traced back to the first Sigerson Cup final in football in 1911 and in the case of Fitzgibbon Cup hurling, back to 1912, with four tiers of competition staged as part of the Electric Ireland GAA Higher Education Championships.