Cork and Waterford go to battle tomorrow evening at half three. After clashing three times already in 2015, these sides will know each other inside out. But there is another reason why many of these players will be familiar with one another.
It’s widely accepted that just one step beneath inter-county hurling lies Fitzgibbon Cup hurling and one third level college has excelled more so than others in this competition.
UCC has long been a centre of excellence for hurling in the south. While Cork obviously holds a large percentage of students, the Déise send down quite a number also.
The godfather of UCC GAA John Grainger has overseen 28 panellists between both counties that have passed through his sides at one point.
Darragh Fitzgibbon, Shane Kingston and Mark Coleman all hurled for the UCC freshers in 2016/17, while a number of others hurled for the UCC Fitzgibbon side this year.
Another past student worth noting is Waterford boss Derek McGrath who won Fitzgibbon cup medals with the college in 1996 and 1997.
On the Cork side, UCC proved a serious aid for one hurler in particular.
Not many hurlers break into the inter-county scene having missed out on both minor and U21 at inter-county level.
One man to break this tradition was Cork’s Seamus Harnedy. Harnedy’s story is well-documented at this point.
However, Harnedy didn’t quite burst onto the scene due to reports of his St.Ita’s club form. It was, in fact, his performances in UCC’s Fitzgibbon cup victory of 2013. A first all-star came in the same year.
The same staggering statistic came when Cork clashed with Tipperary earlier in the summer. On this occasion, of the 52 named panellists for this particular game, 23 had a connection to UCC.
Though they might not admit it, most involved in UCC GAA will be hopeful of a Cork victory tomorrow, but have no doubt they would also love to see their representatives in an All-Ireland final.