Shortly after the GAA was founded 125 years ago, the universities started putting out hurling and Gaelic football teams and competing against each other. These intervarsity competitions were put on a formal basis with the presentation of the Sigerson Cup for football in 1911, the Fitzgibbon Cup for hurling in 1912, and the Ashbourne Cup for camogie in 1915. Involvement in the GAA in third level institutions was a help to many students in adapting to a new life away from their homes and local clubs. It gave them a common interest with fellow students and helped the process of integration into a more diverse community.
The Fitzgibbon Cup was named after Dr Edwin Fitzgibbon, a Capuchin friar who was professor of philosophy in UCC. He donated most of his annual salary to purchase the trophy in 1912, which was to be played for by teams in the top division of university hurling. It is administered by the Higher Education Committee which is part of the GAA, which also administers the Ryan Cup for division 2 and the Fergal Meagher Cup for division 3 of university hurling.
The first 30 years of Fitzgibbon were dominated by UCD and UCC, with UCG winning occasionally. Queen’s University took part for the first time in 1946, and in the 1960s Trinity, the University of Ulster in Coleraine, and Maynooth University joined. In the late 1980s all the teams in Division 1 of the Higher Education League were admitted, and in the 1990s several new third level institutes became participants. The trophy is highly prized and competition for it is fierce. UCG has won it nine times in all, in 1919, 1926, 1942, 1945, 1946, 1949, 1970, 1977, and 1980.
Our photograph today shows the team of 1970, courtesy of Tony Regan. They are, back row, left to right: Seán Burke, Limerick; Michael Keane, Galway; Richard Walsh, Wexford; Niall McInerney, Clare; Gus Costelloe, Galway; Eamonn Corcoran, Galway; Tom Cloonan, Galway; Peter Cosgrove, Galway. In front are Seán Broudar, Limerick; Paul McNamee, Galway; Seamus Hogan, Tipperary, captain; Terry Crowe, Clare; Jim Goulding, Waterford; and Colm O’Flaherty, Tipperary. Missing from the lineup was Timmy Burns, the secretary of the club, who was writing the team list in the dressing room when the picture was being taken.
This image is one of many photographs of GAA teams and personalities associated with UCG which form an exhibition which is now on show in the foyer of the library of the university. These date from the early 20th century to the present. The college library houses the archive of Michael Cusack, one of the founders of the GAA, and a selection of items from this is included in the exhibition, which should not be missed by anyone interested in the history of the GAA or of UCG. You have until December 18 to see it. If any readers have photographs of old UCG teams, I am sure the library would love to add them to the archive, and if you do have any, please put as many names as possible with them. Marie Boran in the library would love to hear from you. She can be reached at [email protected]