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Sigerson must move to October to ease students' burden

By Declan Bogue

In the splendid surroundings of Inniskeen tonight, University of Ulster Jordanstown will face University College Dublin in what is sure to be an incredible Sigerson Cup semi-final.

Both teams are jam-packed with serious talents. The UUJ team is bolstered by recognised county performers in Tyrone's Michael McKernan, Rory and Lee Brennan, Ronan McNamee, Frank Burns, Conall McCann and Mark Bradley.

All but Burns featured for Tyrone in their one-point win over Kildare last Sunday.

A few days before, McKernan, the two Brennan brothers, McNamee, Bradley and McCann played in the quarter-final win over University of Limerick.

And, a matter of days before that, Lee Brennan, McKernan, McNamee, McCann and Burns all featured in Tyrone's bruising league encounter with Dublin, albeit that all but Lee Brennan began the game on the bench.

We could go back, but you get the gist at this point.

Should UUJ win and make it to the final of the Sigerson Cup, then hard choices will have to be made by the seven Tyrone men, with the Red Hands in the Bank of Ireland Dr McKenna Cup final this Saturday night in the Athletic Grounds.

The week after that, Tyrone are away to Monaghan in a crucial game with both neighbours looking to stave off the very real threat of relegation.

They are not the only county affected in this way.

This Sunday was intended as a rest weekend, to allow players to play the Sigerson Cup with no distractions.

As the Derry-Offaly game at Celtic Park last weekend was called off, the potential final will cause difficulties for Michael McEvoy, Terence O'Brien and Danny Tallon.

With all these games being played on pitches that are over-used in the depths of this enduring winter, serious injury seems inevitable.

The most glittering of Kerry stars, David Clifford, had to leave the field with a hamstring injury in their game against Mayo, having played for the county just days after a Tralee IT game.

Universities and schools are placing a bigger than ever burden on young men and women who should be spending the majority of their time doing such old-fashioned things as learning, absorbing the atmosphere of university life and involving themselves in some other clubs and societies rather than adhering to a strict diet and strength and conditioning programme set in September that aims to peak the players six months later.

The solution to all of this, with the GAA calendar becoming more compressed, is so obvious to all - move the Sigerson Cup to October, and let students get on with the rest of their lives.

Belfast Telegraph

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