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21st Feb 2019

“Their hands are tied with the league…it’s ridiculous, you could play the Sigerson first”

Niall McIntyre

A Cork legend, a GAA legend.

He’s 74-years of age but it hasn’t worn off on him yet. The Gaelic football played in O’Moore Park on Wednesday night was a far cry from his first Sigerson Cup medal as a player back in 1965, but UCC manager Billy Morgan only lives for the challenges.

“You have to be patient against these kinds of teams,” he said to us after his fifth Sigerson Cup win (third as manager)

“It’s grand if you can play the ball up to the front men quickly but you can’t. Of course, we had a game-plan, you have to run at them and you have to try and punch holes the defence from the outside, to have lads running off the shoulders,” he added.

And his UCC men carried out that plan to near military precision in the Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup final against St Mary’s in O’Moore Park. Sean O’Shea kicked scores from all angles, Padraig Lucey caught some tremendous balls in midfield while Graham O’Sullivan bombed forward from defence.

Morgan admitted that the men of Belfast were tough to break down, but he couldn’t be prouder of his players who were patient in their play and confident in their plan all the way through.

“Well I’m absolutely thrilled…In my own playing career I won two Sigersons and I rank my Sigerson medals up there with my All-Ireland medal and county championships,” he said.

“They’re a fantastic bunch of players, there’s a lot of obstacles in your way – every college has them – you can’t get your full college together at one particular time…With lectures and with county teams not releasing players – even though the county teams weren’t too bad to us this year…it’s never easy but the lads did their best,” he said.

He does feel however, that this competition – one of the GAA’s oldest and greatest deserves to be treated with more respect from higher-ups in the GAA.

“Croke Park – the GAA are a bit ridiculous, I mean, this is a great prestigious competition and I always believe it’s a great breeding ground for players, it’s a high standard and if I were the GAA and inter-county managers I’d be promoting it because you saw that game tonight, it was as tough and physical as anything you’d get.”

To save it, he feels the Sigerson Cup should be ran off before the beginning of the League.

“Their hands are tied-up with the league starting in January, it’s ridiculous, you could play the Sigerson first.”

Jerome Quinn caught up with him after the game also, when he talked about the importance of the UCC skull and crossbones emblem.

“Well it’s probably the greatest sporting emblem on any sporting jersey. People talk about the fern on the All Blacks jersey, but the skull and crossbones is an absolute privilege and an honour,” he said.

This privilege and honour comes from late Victorian times. UCC, then known as Queen’s College Cork, was primarily a medical school and the junior doctors who played for the university’s rugby club, used a skull and crossbones as the symbol for their team.

Some man.

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