The diversity of the Sigerson Cup allows some of the games top players express themselves outside of the pressures of inter-county football.
Today and tomorrow will see the four best college football sides in the country face off in Ireland’s favourite all or nothing style blitz.
Unlike soccer and rugby, the GAA’s community based ethos means that players will rarely get to play alongside others from different counties in competitive circumstances.
Questions have often been asked “If x ever got to play with y they would have been some team” The Sigerson at its very least gives a platform to experiment with some of these combinations.
Systematic would be a good word to describe DCU’s campaign to date. Relatively close first half’s were followed up by dominant, often wind assisted, second periods. One of the beauties of watching this well drilled machine is the chemistry between All Stars Michael Murphy and Paul Flynn. College competition is the only time these two will ever play together bar the enjoyable relaxed confines of the All Star game.
Flynn’s trademark move would involve coming at pace off the shoulder of a ball winning full forward. In Michael Murphy he has met his match. Their second goal against UCD in the quarter final stemmed from this exact source. A long ball to Murphy with Flynn arriving right on cue to finish to the back of the net.
Murphy’s exceptional ‘banana point’ last week begs the question “Would he have tried it for Donegal in the All Ireland Final?” Very doubtful. While Sigerson is a serious competition, inter-county players feel freed from the pressures of playing in front of big crowds and being scrutinised week in and week out. It allows for more risk taking and expression, which leads to a more exciting quality of football.
The competition is also a very reliable yardstick for inter-county managers when trying to evaluate the credentials of players on the fringes of their squad. Athlone IT have a side with a mix of experience and lesser known quantities. The tournament gives the lesser known players the opportunity to advertise themselves for a role with their county. No better barometer then playing alongside or against the likes of Murphy, Flynn, Aidan O’Shea or Darren O’Sullivan.
If GAA was to have a Premier League type competition where community and place of birth were irrelevant, then the Sigerson Cup is what it would look like. Take a good long look at Michael Murphy and Paul Flynn connecting today, because you know what? You might never see it again.