"I see more Kerry forwards coming to UCC than I do backs anyway" 5 months ago

"I see more Kerry forwards coming to UCC than I do backs anyway"

If it's not IT Tralee, it's usually Cork for the Kerry boys

It's across the border but it's a shorter trek than Dublin, Limerick or Galway and with the pick of courses for them in both CIT and  and with plenty of GAA played in both, the lads leaving the south west are few and far between.

And with UCC the Sigerson Cup's most successful ever college, it's fair to say that the university holds the strongest allure for aspiring Kerry footballers.

Cork senior Cian Kiely is preparing for his fourth year in The College and he's trained with, played with and studied with enough Kingdom lads in those three years to know that and to know enough about them.

Another Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup campaign will kick off next week and speaking at this year's launch, the Ballincollig club man discussed his experience of playing on the same team as the Kerry lads - lads who on the inter-county scene would be his biggest rivals.

"There's always a big showing of Kerry lads. I think Kerry lads really, really value UCC and Sigerson Cup, just from talking to the lads on the team. In Kerry, there's a huge emphasis put on it, which is fantastic and I think there's a big push to get lads into UCC or CIT and playing Sigerson," he said

Paul Geaney came through the UCC GAA academy

And the majority of lads who come in, Kiely has noticed, are forwards. Kerry are renowned for their ability to consistently produce marquee attackers like Colm Cooper and Geaney and though the backs are obviously there too, Kiely's observation gives even more weight to the idea that the culture in Kerry football has these youngsters dreaming to be a forward first.

"It's just a huge culture of football they have really. I see more Kerry forwards coming to UCC than I do backs anyway, so I don't know what that says about them now. Now there's fantastic Kerry backs have come through, but this year there's not as many Kerry backs as there are forwards. There always seems to be a lot of Kerry forwards coming to UCC. I don't know what they think of UCC, they might think it's a forward's game down here," he said.

One of the brightest forwards Kerry have produced in recent years is Seanie O'Shea and the 20-year-old Kenmare club man told us about how competitive that makes it to get a forward's jersey.

"Kerry is known for producing forwards. It's tough and you always have to be on your toes in training trying to get a jersey or hold onto a jersey. You're playing with some of the best forwards in the country," he said.

As for this year's team, Kiely is delighted to welcome lads from further afield into the fold and the college are gunning for a big campaign to reverse their poor run of form in the competition in recent years.

"The team we have this year is fantastic because it's such a broad spread of counties like I was saying, with a lot of different players complimenting each other in terms of the skills they bring to the team.  Hard training sessions are being put in and everyone's working hard so hopefully it's there for us. Hopefully it's an overall strong team, there's no one or two individuals which is always a good thing.

"There's definitely a wider range of players from different counties than I've seen in my time, now I'm only here three years, but last year and the year before it was predominantly Cork and Kerry with a couple of other lads. This year we've got lads from Meath, Limerick, Clare, Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo. It's a huge showing we have this year. So this year there's less Cork and Kerry than there usually is, with more outside lads. Usually it's about 50/50 with Cork and Kerry."

Sean O'Shea and Cian Kiely in attendance at the launch of Electric Ireland's Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and Higher Education Championships announcement at Clanna Gael GAA Club in Dublin. Electric Ireland will live stream a selection of Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup games, bringing fans closer to the action than ever before. As part of the First Class Rivals campaign, rival county footballers but now college teammates, Sean O’Shea (Kerry and UCC) and Cian Kiely (Cork and UCC), Michael McKernan (Tyrone and UU) and Eoghan Bán Gallagher (Donegal and UU) and hurlers, Brian Hogan (Tipperary and UCD) and Seamus Flanagan (Limerick and UCD) will each will put aside their traditional county rivalries, pulling on matching college jerseys to compete as teammates for glory in the Electric Ireland GAA Higher Education Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup.