Cork U20 All-Ireland stars trying to make an impact in the Sigerson Cup

Gearóid O'Donovan and Peter O'Driscoll were in the half-back line when the Rebels lifted the All-Ireland in 2019
Cork U20 All-Ireland stars trying to make an impact in the Sigerson Cup

Cork's Gearoid O'Donovan, seen here tackling Kerry's Adam Donoghue in the Munster U20 championship in 2019, is part of a strong UL Sigerson Cup side. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

A ‘where are they now?’ little ditty is normally reserved for sports men and women who’ve retired for ages but come into mind for one reason or another.

It shouldn’t be the case for the Cork All-Ireland U20 winning side from 2019 and yet the half-back line of Gearoid O’Donovan (Newcestown), Sean Meehan (Kiskeam) and captain Peter O’Driscoll (Ilen Rovers) is worthy of mention on a number of levels.

The first is that the Duhallow-man has made the jump to senior level with impressive ease, full-back on the Cork team last summer and an All-Star nominee after keeping Kerry’s David Clifford scoreless in the Munster final.

Meehan was outstanding in the opening McGrath Cup win over Clare a week and captained the team for the second win over Waterford last Tuesday.

The final this day week against Kerry will represent another opportunity to display his talents against what’s sure to be a strong forward sector and possibly a renewal with Clifford.

Meehan is a student at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick and a key figure in their Trench Cup bid this year which begins against Dundalk IT next week.

The competition is the second tier and doesn’t have the same profile as the much-celebrated Sigerson though Meehan’s side did reach the final in 2020, but lost to CIT.

The paths of the two lads either side of Meehan that fateful day against Dublin in the All-Ireland final in Portlaoise have taken different directions in that they, too, are students but are playing with colleges in the Sigerson.

O’Donovan is a student at UL and featured again at right half-back in their 4-15 to 0-7 thumping of IT Sligo earlier in the week when Sean Powter (Douglas) manned the middle.

Watching on from the sidelines was O’Driscoll, a substitute with the westerners, and probably thinking to himself being better off given the way the game was unfolding.

Peter O'Driscoll of Cork and team-mates celebrate with the trophy following the 2019 All-Ireland U20 triumph. He plays Sigerson with IT Sligo. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Peter O'Driscoll of Cork and team-mates celebrate with the trophy following the 2019 All-Ireland U20 triumph. He plays Sigerson with IT Sligo. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

The Ilen Rovers player, though, was summoned to replace centre-back Galway’s Christopher Joyce for the closing quarter, but by that stage, a UL victory was already set in stone.

UL, who travel to play Letterkenny IT in the NUIG Connacht Air Drone tomorrow afternoon, are highly fancied with a side containing players from eight counties, including the aforementioned classy Clifford from Killarney.

They’re expected to advance, but for O’Driscoll’s IT Sligo, it’s another trip on the road, this time to Carlow, where the local IT would be fancied to bounce back from their dramatic two-point defeat to Letterkenny.

MTU Cork Campus, the former CIT, must also venture away from their Bishopstown base to Tralee, where the Kerry version of MTU await in a novel pairing tomorrow night at 7pm.

Again there are links to Cork’s All-Ireland triumph in 2019 because defender Paul Ring (Aghabullogue), midfielder Daniel O’Connell (Kanturk) and corner-forward Damien Gore (Kilmacabea) form part of the Cork Campus selection.

In addition, the trio also played in the McGrath Cup against Clare, when Castlehaven’s Rory Maguire started at wing-back and Cillian O’Donovan (Macroom) came off the bench.

MTU Cork come into the game on the back of a historic first Sigerson win over UCC, winning by 0-15 to 0-14, with Gore hitting 0-8 and David Buckley, a Cork U20 last season, contributing 0-4.

In all 11 players from Cork clubs started with three from Kerry and a lone Tipperary representative in Conal Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials), scorer of a point.

MTU Kerry stunned the leaders in the roll-of-honour, UCD, by 1-13 to 0-11 with a team, under the management of former Kerry star, Aidan O’Mahony, containing 14 Kerry starters.

The exception was another Tipp-man, corner-back Dean Carew (Upperchurch Drombane) though three of the six substitutes introduced were from Cork, Ballingeary’s Sean Ó Luasa, Laois and Louth.

What’s also interesting about the game is that two Kerry clubs, Kerins O’Rahillys from Tralee and Legion from Killarney, have players on both teams.

Gavin O’Brien, star of CIT’s Trench Cup victory, will lead the attack while Kerry’s Jack Savage, scorer of 0-6 against UCD, will be in the corner at the other end.

Finbarr Murphy, who kicked a point, when introduced for MTU Cork, and home midfielder Darragh Lyne play with Legion.

It’s a big ask for the Cork students against opponents with other Kerry seniors in Mike Breen and Tony Brosnan though injury is set to rule out Dara Moynihan.

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