This week, the quarterfinal round of the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup threw up a few eye-catching results as we head for the business end of the tournament. The semifinals will take place next Wednesday with the following fixtures:
Ulster University v UCD
NUIG v DIT
Here were the five big talking points from the quarterfinal stage.
NUIG shrug off adversity to shock UCC
NUIG had to travel away to UCC, then had to play almost half of the game with 14 men, yet still had five points to spare over their hosts by full-time. Their 1-9 to 0-07 win in Mardyke was the upset of the quarter-finals, and although the Galway side trailed numerically following Aaron O'Connor's second-half dismissal, they were never behind on the scoreboard. The hosts were 1-4 down by the time they got off the scoresheet and were never allowed a foothold in the game by NUIG, with Galway's Peter Cooke dominating at midfield.
While UCC were without Seans O'Shea and Powter, it was a fine victory for NUIG, who march on to a semi-final meeting with DIT.
Brennan brothers at UU's Service
Ulster University have uncovered their own version of the Brennan brothers, with Lee and Rory to the fore in their college's 4-6 to 0-11 victory over UL. Lee Brennan has loitered on the fringes of the GAA public's consciousness for the last year or so, rising to prominence with a 3-14 haul in a single Tyrone championship game for Trillick. He was handed his first Tyrone start against Dublin last weekend, and responded by kicking six points. He followed that up with 1-1 for UU, but was (slightly) outshone by his brother Rory, who ended the game with a haul of 1-2. This, in spite of wearing the number 4 on his back - all presumably music to Mickey Harte's ears.
Yet another Kerry youngster steps up to the plate
While Sean O'Shea and David Clifford have hogged the spotlight in the last few weeks, another Kerry youngster laden with underage success has been stepping up to the plate at senior level. Barry O'Sullivan has started both of Kerry's national league games thus far this year and has delivered in spades for UCD in between.
He and Kerry colleague Jack Barry ruled midfield for UCD in their quarter-final win against DCU, dominating an opposing side featuring Tipperary's Stephen O'Brien. His fine form is good news for all in the Kingdom bar the small pocket that dedicates themselves to hurling - O'Sullivan hurled for the Kerry under-21s last year, and their hopes for his stepping up to senior level dimish as his football career burgeons.
Limiting DIT's lethal forward line not enough
DIT possess one of the most lethal forward lines in the competition, featuring Mayo's Conor Loftus, Cavan's Caoimhin O'Reilly, Westmeath's Shane Dempsey and Glenn O'Reilly, currently lingering on the fringes of the Dublin senior panel. IT Tralee kept the quartet relatively quiet (they kicked a total of 0-10 between them) but for all of their hard work, the Kerry college were ultimately hoisted by a barnstorming attacking performance from DIT wing-back, Enda Flanagan.
Flanagan scored a remarkable 2-1, with manager Billy O'Loughlin hailing it as an "exhibition from wingback".
Inter-county schedule complicates matters for Sigerson coaches
With the beginning of the National League hauled back into January, Sigerson coaches have had their jobs greatly complicated owing to the congestion of fixtures. IT Tralee were without David Clifford as a result of the injury he sustained against Mayo playing for the Kerry seniors, with inter-county commitments also cited for their early withdrawal of Gavin Crowley against DIT, who themselves were without Dublin's Brian Howard as he chooses to focus on nailing down a spot with the All-Ireland champions. UCC, too, were without talisman Sean O'Shea, given his integral involvement with the Kerry senior panel and Sean Powter, who picked up an injury playing with Cork against Tipperary.
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