CIT hoping to pull together for Sigerson Cup
By Michael Devlin
Cork Institute of Technology face the unenviable task of travelling to holders University College Dublin in the first round of the 2019 Electric Ireland Sigerson Cup, and while the odds will be firmly stacked against them, Anthony Casey believes the restructuring of the competition away from a straight knock-out system can give his team a good chance to further regroup.
Back in January, CIT fell by five points away to University of Limerick in the first round of last season’s competition, with Limerick closing out the game strong to book their spot in the quarter-finals.
“We could have put up a better fight,” Casey told GAA.ie. “It was a disaster really, but hopefully this year we’ll be able to redeem ourselves. We have two shots, so if we lose our first round, we have the second game. We’ll have a bit of time to regroup again.”
It’s been a difficult first half of the college football season for CIT, who have been hampered in their build-up in the competition with players unavailable due to club championships in Cork and Kerry.
Goalkeeper Casey was involved in last year’s campaign but revealed that players in key departments from that panel have since moved on, while the club commitments of the current players have made it difficult to get their full squad out for training sessions and challenge games.
“We’re missing a good few from last year, in midfield and full back, both central roles. We’ve a good group of lads this year, but a bit slack in numbers because of club championship, U21s and senior, still going down in Cork and Kerry.
“It’s very hard because you’re trying to give lads a break because of their welfare, and some lads don’t want to play because they need a break and you can’t pressure them into playing.
“We played Sligo in a league relegation play-off there and we lost, and we could carry only 18 or 19 players up to Sligo in Abbottstown because numbers are so slack, and you don’t want to burnout the players either, you have to look after them.
“There’s lads involved with development squads with Kerry, Cork, Tipp, playing senior or whatever. If we can get a few challenge games under our belt, hopefully things will come together.”
CIT GAA Development Officer Keith Ricken is once again in charge, along with his team of selectors, while former Cork All-Ireland winner Paudie Kissane is also involved in a coaching capacity.
Casey has praised the college’s management and coaching set-up on prioritising the balance between academic and sporting commitments, and the promotion of player welfare.
“When you’re playing the bigger colleges with a bigger population it’s hard, so that’s why we do look after our lads and try to keep them playing football. That’s one thing with our GAA development officer and our selectors that our involved with the first-year teams right through to the senior club, they look after the academic side first and then focus on football. They do place a big emphasis on their well-being.
“Hopefully now before the championship we can regroup and get a few sessions in and a few challenge matches.”