ON the morning of the Sigerson Cup final, UCC forward Gary Murphy sat a third-year exam. It was his second of the week.
The exam ran from half nine to half twelve. After, the Castletownbere clubman (21) grabbed a quick bite to eat and hopped on the team bus that took them to Portlaoise for the big game.
‘I had two stresses last week – the exams and the game,’ Gary says.
‘Sigerson finals are special to be involved in so there was no way I was going to miss it. Once you are in the exam, you’re focussed on that, and after I switched to the game.’
Gary came off the bench to score one point as UCC beat St Mary’s by 0-16 to 1-9, with Clonakilty’s Mark White between the posts for the Cork college. Another Clon player, Cork senior Liam O’Donovan, missed the game through injury, while Castlehaven’s Cathal Maguire was also on the panel.
It was the first time in five years that UCC won the Sigerson Cup title – but Gary had to skip the celebrations. He had another exam on Friday morning, his sixth and final of the past two weeks.
‘I only stayed for a small bit after the game because I had an exam on Friday. It was the same for Colm McSweeney on the team as well. We struck off together so we missed the celebrations,’ the Beara footballer explains – but at least he has a Sigerson winner’s medal to show for his efforts.
‘It was a brilliant win. It’s such a prestigious competition. You only have to look back at all the previous players who have represented UCC and it’s nice to be part of that. The management really instilled in us how big the Sigerson is and what it means to the college,’ Gary says. The UCC boss is the legendary Billy Morgan. The 74-year-old won the Sigerson Cup for the fifth time with this latest success – he has won it three times as UCC manager and twice as a player with the college in the mid-sixties.
‘Billy is unbelievable. He is an extremely good motivator. His man-management is one of his strongest assets. He knows how to talk to each player, how to motivate you and how to get the best out of you. He is a legend. To have him as a coach and a mentor is brilliant,’ Gary says.
Morgan got his UCC team pumped before the final against St Mary’s.
‘He talked about the history of the college, the tradition, how much Sigerson titles mean to him and how even to this day when he meets his teammates how they still talk about the Sigerson Cup and their wins. He spoke to us about the friendships and camaraderie, and how special the Sigerson is. He’s so passionate and it really motivated everyone,’ Gary explains.
He’ll hope to carry this winning feeling back to his club when they take on Kanturk in the first round of the county premier intermediate football championship in April.
‘That’s the next focus. We’ve had three league wins in a row which is good. There are a lot of young fellas coming through so hopefully it will be exciting times for the club.’