Part of Canon O'Brien Cup proceeds to go to Dillon Quirke Foundation

UCC and Cork clash at the Mardyke on Tuesday night
Part of Canon O'Brien Cup proceeds to go to Dillon Quirke Foundation

Mark Kehoe of UCC looks for a way through to goal against Cork in last year's Canon O'Brien Cup game at the Mardyke. Picture: Larry Cummins

The Dillon Quirke Foundation will be among the beneficiaries as the Canon O’Brien Cup celebrates its tenth anniversary at the Mardyke next Tuesday (7pm).

The UCC v Cork fixture in honour of the legendary hurling coach has been played each January since 2013, apart from 2018, when the game was postponed due to bad weather and then unable to be refixed due to scheduling difficulties, and 2021, when Covid-19 dictated so much of the GAA calendar.

Thankfully, things are back to close to normal and the foundation set up to honour the memory of the Tipperary hurler, who tragically died last August, will receive a percentage of the gate receipts.

Cork began their 2023 season last Thursday night away to Kerry and have Limerick to come to Páirc Uí Rinn tomorrow week, while UCC’s Fitzgibbon Cup campaign commences with a home clash against Maynooth University on Thursday week, January 19. To that end, the game will again provide a valuable outing for both sides while new Cork manager Pat Ryan will be in the position of being able to run the rule over the Rebels lining out for the college team.

Cork's Patrick Cronin scores a point in the 2015 Canon O'Brien Cup game. Picture: Larry Cummins
Cork's Patrick Cronin scores a point in the 2015 Canon O'Brien Cup game. Picture: Larry Cummins

Of the eight previous games, Cork hold a 6-2 advantage, having won the first four games between the teams.

The first of those took place on Saturday, January 19, 2013 and was also a Waterford Crystal Cup first-round tie as college sides had the option of entering inter-county pre-season competitions.

A quarter-final clash with Waterford IT was the prize and it was Cork who came out on top, winning by 3-20 to 1-16. Two goals in the space of a minute just before half-time, through Patrick Horgan and Paudie O’Sullivan, helped them to they took command. Horgan finished with 2-7, 1-7 coming in the first half – Cork led by 2-8 to 0-9 at the break.

UCC came strongly at the start of the second half with Willie Griffin cutting the gap to two points with a goaled free. Cork responded well, Horgan nailing a 20m free for his second goal. Stephen Moylan, Pa Cronin and O’Sullivan all scored good points in the closing stages as Cork pulled clear.

In 2014 a Cork team holiday precluded involvement in the Waterford Crystal and so the Canon game was used as a national league tune-up, with a 2-19 to 1-14 win recorded by Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side. The goals came from Horgan and Moylan while Paul Haughney scored three points from midfield.

The following year, Anthony Nash marked his appointment as Cork captain by leading the Rebels to victory against the Students. Paudie O’Sullivan’s early goal put Cork 1-10 to 0-4 in front before Jamie Barron goaled from a UCC penalty and it was 1-13 to 1-7 at half-time.

While Anthony Spillane narrowed the gap on the resumption, Cork pushed on again and won by 1-26 to 2-12.

With Kieran Kingston having taken over from Barry-Murphy for 2016, Cork made it four wins on the trot but they needed second-half goals from O’Sullivan and emerging talent Darragh Fitzgibbon to secure a 2-12 to 0-13 victory.

However, UCC were not to be denied indefinitely and in 2017 a youthful Cork side – the game was on the same weekend as a Munster HL clash with Kerry – were beaten by 0-22 to 1-13, with Alan Cadogan scoring seven points for UCC while Billy McCarthy landed five.

Cork regained the cup when the competition was revived in 2019 but it was a close-run thing. Declan Dalton’s goal helped Cork to a 1-13 to 0-15 half-time lead but UCC were in front after Mark Coleman netted from a penalty. The upper hand continued to go back and forth in the closing stages and UCC were in front as the game moved into injury time but Patrick Horgan and Stephen Condon pointed for a 1-24 to 1-23 win.

It was just as competitive in 2020, but this time it was UCC coming out on top, with Seán Hayes landing the winner for a 2-18 to 1-20 victory. While Luke Meade had a first-minute Cork goal, Michael O’Halloran’s green flag helped UCC to a 1-11 to 1-8 lead.

Though Cork pushed three ahead in the second half, Hayes’s goal tied things and it was he who proved to be the match-winner.

At the time, few could have imagined what lay ahead in the GAA landscape over the next two years. With no game in 2021, it was back last year, with the inclusion of Mark Keane for Cork the most notable aspect of the 2022 match.

The Rebels triumphed by 1-17 to 1-15. While Darragh Fitzgibbon had an early goal, Simon Kennefick replied with a green flag for UCC and it was 1-8 to 1-6 for Cork at half-time. Shane Kingston’s points were important in ensuring they stayed in front in the second half.

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