University College Cork (UCC) Senior Hurlers will take on the Cork Senior Hurlers in the inaugural Canon Michael O’Brien Cup this Saturday 19th January. The game will be played in the Mardyke GAA Grounds at noon, followed by a lunch at 2.30pm in the Student Centre, UCC, at which an appropriate tribute will be paid to the Canon on his huge contribution to UCC and Cork. For the hurlers who lined out in the Fitzgibbon Cup for UCC in the 1980’s and early 90’s, participation in this great competition was synonymous with coming under the influence of the management team of Professor Willie J Smyth, Dan Beechinor and Canon Michael O’Brien. Canon O’Brien’s achievements as a hurling mentor and as an inspirational coach are legendary. He coached the famous eight-in-a-row teams from 1981 to 1988 and went on to coach two further UCC Fitzgibbon Cup winning teams in 1990 and 1991. To a man, his former student players would quote him as the most important influence on their hurling careers. Many of the iconic UCC Fitzgibbon hurlers of that time came under his wing, including Nicky English, Pat Hartnett, Paul O’Connor, John Considine, Ian Conroy and Cathal Casey. Attending the function will be members of Canon O’Brien’s family, including his brother Dermot and nephew William (who is Professor of Archaeology at UCC). Dr. Michael Murphy, President of UCC, Vincent Fitzgibbon (nephew of Dr. Edwin Fitzgibbon), Dr. Paddy Crowley (President of UCC Hurling Club), Dr Con Murphy (President of UCC Gaelic Football Club) as well as Liam O’Neill, President of the GAA, will also be present. Speaking ahead of the fixture, John Grainger, UCC GAA Development Officer and organiser of the event, comments: “Canon Michael O’Brien is a name that is synonymous with the history of the Fitzgibbon Cup and with the history of UCC Hurling Club. Along with Dan Beechinor and Professor Willie Smyth, O’Brien brought UCC to a hurling grandeur that will hardly be seen again. In Belfast, Maynooth, Galway, Croke Park and other venues, UCC hurlers captured the Fitzgibbon from 1981 to 1988 and again in the years 1990 and 1991.” Grainger continues: “UCC GAA Club is delighted to honour Canon Michael O’Brien. We are also extremely honoured that the President of the GAA, Liam O’Neill, will attend along with members of the O’Brien family at the lunch, where we will remember the Canon’s contribution to the GAA.” The fixture, which will also be a Waterford Crystal tournament match, will be an annual event.
15th January, 2013