By Oisín Bradley
The Gaelic Athletic Association have confirmed the cancellation of all third level Gaelic Games competitions for the 2020/21 Academic Year
The move to cancel all university competition, which encompasses the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon cups, as well as all Fresher gaelic football and hurling competitions for the season, will likely come as a blow to many students in both NUI Galway and further afield, who see representing their university in these competitions as an intrinsic part of their college experience.
“The committee had been hopeful of staging a comprehensive programme of games, including the Sigerson & Fitzgibbon Cups, but given the current landscape in the country and the public health difficulties, this will not be possible,” confirmed the GAA Higher Education Committee in a statement in mid-January.
The prospects of the competition taking place in the 2021/22 academic year are considered to be quite optimistic, however, as the Higher Education GAA Committee have not completely abandoned the notions of these competitions being staged in October as originally planned.
In a statement, the committee’s chair Michael Hyland expressed optimism that both the main and Fresher competitions could take place next year as planned.
“There is a lot of uncertainty about when games will recommence at club and county level and what the calendar will look like in 2021 but as the situation becomes clearer, we will work with the clubs, colleges, development officers and all stakeholders to try and find ways to mitigate against the effects of our students not having had any games this academic year and we are really looking forward to a return to play in October.
“We are looking forward staging second year competitions for this year’s Freshers which we hope will take place in the first Semester of the 2021/2022 academic year.
“Finally, I would like to wish all our players well for the studies in the year and would like to wish all those involved in our sector the very best and good health as we get through Covid-19.”
This mean’s that NUIG’s chances of re-capturing the Sigerson ad Fitzgibbon Cups will have to continue for at least another season. Their drought of success in these flagship competitions has gone on since 2010, when the Fitzgibbon Cup side triumphed over WIT in Salthill to claim their tenth title.