Adrian Greaney: ‘Billy Morgan brought it together’
*By Cian O’Connell *
There is just something about the Sigerson Cup, especially the Finals weekend when the stakes are piled high.
Current UCC selector and Gaelic Football Club Chairman Adrian Greaney has plenty of interesting stories to tell – especially the 2011 edition when Billy Morgan guided them to Sigerson glory.
It was an epic three days for UCC, but Greaney, who broke an ankle during the Semi-Final win over hosts UCD, was still able to raise silverware in Belfield. “They played the Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals, and Final in the one weekend,” Greaney recalls. “We played at DCU, UCD, I broke an ankle in the last few minutes, and then Jordanstown.”
At the time UCC’s panel was packed with emerging players with Morgan a shrewd sideline influence. “That year before the Sigerson some paper did a Team of the Sigerson and there wasn't one fella from UCC,” Greaney says.
"That really put UCC back on the map as a force."
“This was a year after Cork won the All Ireland, we had Ken O'Halloran, Jamie O'Sullivan, and Sean Kiely, who were all in the Cork panel. We had a lot of Kerry minors and Under 21s, I suppose they weren't the household names that other Colleges had at the time, but they went on.
"You had fellas like Peter Crowley, Steven O'Brien, Mark Collins, Barry O'Driscoll, Kevin O'Driscoll, Daithi Casey, Johnny Buckley. It is only when you look back you see how good the team was, but at the time we were up against it.
“We played DCU, who would have been favourites, we played UCD then, they'd have been favourites, and then in the Final Jordanstown were slight favourites as well so we were up against it the whole time. That really put UCC back on the map as a force.
“From there then we lost the Semi-Final, but we came back to win it the following year. After that they've gone close to winning a couple of Sigersons.
“It is a hard competition to win, to be back at another weekend is a testament to the players and the management, especially Billy, Kevin Murray, Paul O'Keefe, and Tomas, who has added another dimension to it this year.”
Morgan, the Nemo Rangers and Cork stalwart, has had a significant impact on Greaney. “I was a Kerry minor in 2006, a Kerry Under 21 in 2009, I didn't really make the step up to Senior between different things. It gave me an opportunity to play at a high level again.
“Billy came in for 2010 and UCC was nearly at a low ebb, Gaelic Football wise for different factors. Guys were being drawn by other teams, Billy came in and he brought it together. We got to the Final that year, but we lost to DCU.
“The following year, I went back and did a Postgrad, basically to play Football to be honest so it was great to win it that year. Last year was the only weekend Billy didn't get to, I think, so that speaks for itself really. It is some record.”
Greaney is keen to stress how Morgan has assisted in the development of so many Kerry youngsters, including the current panel which is liberally stocked with emerging Green and Gold talent. “He would be a staunch Corkman, but there is a misconception about Billy that he is totally Cork and totally against Kerry,” Greaney states.
“Nothing could be further from the truth, if you speak to any Kerry fella involved for the last few years in UCC, the big fella they will talk about is Billy.
“He is just able to bring the best out of the players. The big thing he is able to do, along with putting a team together is that he is able to associate with the players. He is a fella you could sit down with to have a couple of pints with, he has great stories, he has a great relationship with players.”
"Not every person that goes back to College is able to avail of an opportunity like this."
That is also the case with Tomas O’Se, who is a selector for UCC. Greaney is delighted that O’Se is heavily involved. “Number one it is the respect the players would have for him, but also it is his knowledge of the game. He is a very good speaker, he is involved with Nemo now as well so he is very like Billy in that he would command the respect of the players. It is good.
“I suppose after the passing of John Corcoran, who was involved for years, John would have had a big say in UCC teams when we won it, Tomas added something different. He is only retired so he has a good knowledge of the game and it is good to get different ideas. He has added something new to it, I think he is enjoying it and I hope he will be involved with UCC for another few years to come.”
These are hectic times for Greaney, who is busy balancing work and college commitments as a student teacher in Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal in Blarney. “The fact that I'm involved with the Sigerson as well I'm very grateful to the school and Vodafone Ireland, who gave me a job.
“I'm able to work around that, both the school and the job have been very accommodating, so I'm lucky. Not every person that goes back to College is able to avail of an opportunity like this.
“Cathal Dodd, the Vice Principal and Padraig Sheehan, the Principal, have been very accommodating. They encourage you to get involved with teams. It is nice to have that and to have their backing training teams.”
Co-manager of the UCC Fresher Footballers combined with Sigerson commitments occupies Greaney, who will hit the west knowing what can be achieved. Six years ago Greaney was a central figure for UCC, and he is still utterly aware of what a tournament the Sigerson is.