Column: Sigerson Cup Cancellation No Real Loss

Which player has the most Sigerson cup winner’s medals as captain?

If that question was thrown in at your next Zoom quiz night, I’d be very surprised if anyone were to even have a good stab at the correct answer.

It’s not that GAA fanatics and aficionados are in such low supply, but more that the most over rated competition in Irish sport is without doubt the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup.

The news last week that the 2021 Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup would not take place in the academic year, wasn’t exactly met with an out-pouring of mourning.

While not unexpected; the two collegiate trophies have gone the same way as the O’Byrne, FBD and McKenna Cup’s, but aside from those of us in the media game, who will really miss these competitions?

With regard to the inter-county pre-season tournaments you would say the fans, players and management.

While the media have something to talk about on a cold and frozen afternoon in January as Leitrim and Mayo duke it out; with players unlikely to be involved in the summer, at least management have an idea of what’s available to their panel.

As for the Fitzgibbon or Sigerson, my own experience of standing on the touchline as Waterford IT hurlers ravaged St. Patricks College or DCU bashed AIT on a cold mid-week night with not more than 50 in attendance.

Those living outside the bubble of the old alumni from Trinity College to UCC have never evolved into this love of third level establishment.

It’s disappearance from the 2021 calendar won’t be missed by anyone from sports editors to sports fans, the blank line that will sit beside 2021 on the cups, won’t even be noticed.

However, those celebrating will undoubtedly be county managers up and down the land.

The over training and over playing brigade never seem to raise their hand when it comes to the third level competitions.

Opinion suggests that over training damage is being done by these teams. While the club scene has concluded and the inter-county scene moves into pre-season, these third level players are busy with full-on preparation for a window that falls between both.

By the time the real stuff of the Allianz league comes around in late January/early February, the participants of the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon have already being flogged.

Yet the over played brigade remain quiet about a competition that bares no significance to the GAA season.

The restricted nature to these competitions too just third level players, is another reason why it should be demoted.

As academic sports trainers cry foul; simply, there is no market for university/collegiate sport in this country

While DCU attempted to copy the model of third level sport in the 2000’s their ship ran aground when reality struck as Ireland simply doesn’t have the infrastructure or the interest to support a collegiate sports system.

Unlike the USA where baseball, American football and basketball all have a thriving collegiate sports scene feeding into the professional senior sports, this is simply non-existent in Ireland and doesn’t want to exist.

When the US Soccer federation launched MLS as the senior professional soccer league in the US back in 1996, they immediately tried to copy the road-map per the big three US Sports.

10-years later the powers that be changed their model, simply because soccer was too developed internationally and the sport had no window for collegiate activity. Hence the MLS moved to the traditional European model of under-17 and 19 teams feeding into their senior sides.

Interest is totally different, Penn State University attracting crowds of near 100,000 to their college American football games.

In Ireland the best a big Dublin derby of UCD and DCU can muster is probably less than 200.

The argument I hear you cry is the story of third level, it’s not the takin part, but the life experience you gain. However those on the side line don’t see it that way!

Some years ago, DJ Carey when managing Carlow IT, refused to issue the team sheets to the assembled media (all three of us), until 60 seconds before throw-in.

While on many an occasion DCU with Sean Boylan on the touchline, would delay their arrival for the second-half from the dressing room.

Yes winners will take every advantage, especially when college sports programmes funding is dependent on high performance results.

Well I have news for you, Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup is not high performance. It’s mixed performance, sitting below inter-county and at times above club.

In answer to the opening teaser, the player with the most Sigerson cup winning medals is shared by Kerry’s Solomon Lawlor (UCD 1917 & 18), Clare’s Eamon O’Doherty (UCD 1927 & 29) and Donegal’s Jim McGuiness (IT Tralee 1999 & UUJ 2001).

Do the history books need to be added to?