Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup Preview

Sigerson Cup Preview

Barry Dillon says he has no regrets about his squad selection as Ulster University chase a breakthrough Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup win. The Ulster outfit - previously known as UUJ - will push for a first championship success in 16 years when they play UCD on Wednesday. They've got star talent in the shape of Tyrone's Canavan brothers, Darragh and Ruairi, Conor Cush and Niall Loughlin but if the circumstances had been just a little different, they'd have Derry superstar Conor Glass and reigning Young Footballer of the Year Ethan Doherty too. The duo powered Glen to All-Ireland club glory in January before immediately returning to inter-county duty with Derry.


Ulster University manager Dillon felt it wouldn't have been fair to recall them for the concluding stages of the competition. "They were very keen to get involved, they were happy to play, it's just the timing of it," said Dillon of the club, college and county conundrum. We were talking to them before they even finished the Derry club championship, they were in with us before that. They were in with us during the Ulster championship then and they won that. Then they went on to the All-Ireland club semi-final and final and fair play to them they won it. They went down then to play in the National League in Kerry, they were kind of running on empty a bit. So they missed out on our quarter-final and then it was too late really, it was too late to start bringing boys in for just a final, I just wouldn't do it for any team. It's not the way to do it. Conor is actually away on holidays at the minute, they're away on holidays and they're taking time out, the Glen boys, and much deserved."


Dillon is content that he still has an ultra-talented and tight squad capable of claiming a landmark Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup win. "There's a bit of a bond going in there with the boys and they're playing for the shirts on their backs at the minute," he said. "Win, lose or draw, when boys are giving you everything like that, you can accept whatever happens. Ulster University underlined their title credentials by beating holders UCC in Round 1. They've since taken the scalps of MTU Cork, TU Dublin and Maynooth University. The only blot on their copybook is a Round 2 loss to UCD. They also conceded seven goals to UCD last year. Dillon said: "They beat us in Round 2 by eight points. They had a man sent off before half-time and they had no Ben O'Carroll either that day. So we have a lot of ground to make up. I think we have improved but whether we've improved enough remains to be seen."


UCD are hunting a record 35th title and won all their games comfortably before edging a one-pointer against UL last week. All 15 players that started against UL have played competitively for their counties already this year.

UCD captain Kieran Kennedy is battling to regain his place in defence in what will be his final Sigerson outing. "I'm studying Medicine and I have another year left but the way it falls, you're only allowed to play Sigerson for five years so this is my final year playing," said the former Dublin senior. It would be absolutely brilliant to win it and to cap off my Sigerson time in UCD. There'd be no better way to finish it."


But the Ballyboden man has a deep respect for Ulster University. "I've played against them nearly every year I've been involved," he said. "It tends to be a good game every time. We played them previously this year and I got dismissed early enough, after about 25 minutes. That was a serious test for the team but we held out."

By Paul Keane

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