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Irish Examiner O’Connor Cup Ones to Watch

Launch of the O’Connor Cup 

The Irish Examiner O’Connor Cup gets underway at the Cork Institute of Technology tomorrow morning as semi finals take place in the Giles, Lynch and O’Connor Cups. Some of the best players that ever stepped onto a football field first made a name for themselves in this third level colleges competition so we have looked at the teams and picked out the Players to Watch.

Wexford v New York - TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Junior Championship Final

Donaghy Cup

Ellen O’Brien (St. Pat’s Drumcondra and Wexford)


The Donaghy Cup Final takes place on Saturday morning when St. Pat’s Drumcondra meet Liverpool Hope University. Experience may play a big role in deciding the winner of this final and they don’t come much more experienced than Ellen O’Brien. Despite being a very young player Ellen is already a veteran of two All Ireland Finals having twice graced Croke Park with her native Wexford including turning in a super display from half forward in their win over New York in September.

Wexford v New York - TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Junior Championship Final

Lynch Cup

Clara Donnelly (WIT and Wexford)


Clara Donnelly has a wealth of experience that could be key for WIT in their clash with DIT. The Wexford star is a very capable defender but is possibly more comfortable in midfield where she can drive forward to support the attack. Clara is as experienced as they come having captained Wexford to All Ireland glory in 2014.

Dublin v Laois - Bord Gais Energy Ladies National Football League Division 1 Round 7

Amy Ring (DIT and Dublin)


Amy is a nippy corner forward that can find the net with the smallest of openings. The Foxrock Cabinteely player has represented Dublin in the past and was an underage star as well as being captain of her college team where her natural leadership should be a big boost to DIT’s chances.

Cork v Monaghan - Tesco Ladies National Football League Round 3

Emma Farmer (CIT and Cork)

There are several potential stars in the CIT side but there is no doubt that former international soccer player, Emma Farmer is the brightest of them all. A regular starter for Eamonn Ryan’s Cork side, Farmer has the explosive potential to win matches almost single handedly. The CIT captain can operate at full or centre forward and will need to be marked very closely if she is to be stopped.

Giles Cup

Dublin v Cork - Tesco Homegrown Ladies National Football League Division 1 Round 5

Sarah McCaffrey (TCD and Dublin)


In what has been a difficult start to the TESCO NFL for Dublin Sarah McCaffrey has emerged as a real star at midfield. The Clontarf star has been a revelation in recent years as she starts regularly for Dublin at midfield and is always good for a score. Nicole Owens is a goal scoring machine so McCaffrey’s main job will be to ensure that there is a regular supply of ball going into her lethal inside forward and fellow Dublin panellist.

Meath v Monaghan - TESCO HomeGrown Ladies National Football League Division 1 Round 3

Emma Troy (St. Pat’s and Meath)


There is no doubt that this is a strong St. Pat’s team that will be a real force in the Giles Cup and if they are to be successful a lot will depend on Emma Troy and her form in defence. Emma is consistently one of the best defenders in the country and is often the player designated to mark the opposition star forward. It is not just in defence that the Meath star is important as she has a tendency to find herself on the scoreboard too.


O’Connor Cup (6 to Watch)

Cork v Monaghan - Tesco Ladies National Football League Round 3

Roisin Phelan (UCC and Cork)


Roisin Phelan is a youngster with a very bright future in the game. She forced her way into the Cork senior team at the beginning of the 2014 league season and held her place right up to the All Ireland final against Dublin where she was superb in defence. The Aghada player is a natural leader in defence and plays from the front breaking up attack after attack. With some of the attacking talent available in other colleges her role will be key to UCC’s chances of success. All Star defender Vera Foley is another rock in defence with Maire O’Callaghan at midfield and Cork senior stars Orlagh Farmer, Doireann O’Sullivan and Jennifer Barry in their ranks they have a real chance of winning the competition for the first time since 2012.

Cork v Monaghan - TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Senior Championship Final

Laura McEnaney (DCU and Monaghan)


In a star studded team it is Monaghan ace Laura McEnaney that stands out as the key player for the Dublin college. McEnaney is the team captain and has been showing great form with Monaghan in the TESCO NFL this season. McEnaney, who can also play in defence has made the switch to centre forward where she acts as the playmaker for her team winning plenty of breaking ball and linking play with her dangerous inside forwards. This is a DCU team that possibly boasts the best squad in the competition so McEnaney’s job will be to ensure that the players gel and produce their best.

Cavan v Tipperary - TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Interrmediate Championship Final

Jennifer Grant (UL and Tipperary)


The defending champions boast possibly the strongest midfield pairing in the competition as Jennifer Grant is joined by Lorraine Scanlon in the centre of the field. Grant’s job is one that often goes under the radar as she anchors midfield and helps out the UL defenders. Her ability to win clean ball from kick outs as well as spoil opposition kick outs sets her out as a player that is key to UL’s game plan. In 2014 UL shocked the defending champion Queen’s team in the final where one of the stand out characteristics of that match was Grant’s man-marking job as she limited the effect of Caroline O’Hanlon who had to be moved out of her usual midweek berth.

Cork v Galway - All-Ireland Ladies Football Minor A Championship Final

Olivia Divilly (NUIG and Galway)


NUI Galway will be the underdogs for the Irish Examiner O’Connor Cup but that is something that will suit them fine as they meet the defending champions, UL, in their semi final. Galway’s Olivia Divilly is the star player for NUIG. She was part of the two in a row All Ireland Minor Champion Galway team winning the Player of the Match in 2013. Divilly is a graceful forward that tends to run directly at opposition defences at wonderful pace. She is a vital source of scores from play but also has the ability to score frees from distance. If NUIG are to shock UL in their semi final meeting then Divilly will need to see a lot of possession.

Clare v Donegal - TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Minor Championship Final

Niamh O’Dea (UL and Clare)


Niamh O’Dea is a name that has gone under the radar as her native Clare have not reached the latter rounds of intercounty competition. However, this does not hide the fact that O’Dea is one of the elite forwards in the game. The skilful attacker can take scores from distance or present a running threat to opposition defences. Her importance to UL can be seen in that she was named captain of the two in a row seekers. O’Dea’s understanding with the excellent Roisin Leonard is also a key aspect of UL’s attacking play with one often providing the assist for the other. If any team is to have a hope of defeating the champions then they must come up with a plan to limit the effectiveness of the Clare attacker.

Mayo v Westmeath - TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Senior Championship Round 2 Qualifier

Sarah Rowe (DCU and Mayo)


DCU have a frightening array of talent at their disposal but perhaps their greatest weapon is the young Mayo star. Rowe has long been marked for greatness having twice been selected as the Connacht Young Player of the Year and in the last couple of years she is beginning to fulfil that potential. Rowe, who is also a top class international soccer player, is expected to line out at corner forward where her explosive pace and direct running style can be put to the best use. Any college that faces DCU will surely need to keep an eye on Rowe who is an ace goal poacher.


Irish Examiner O’Connor Cup Fixtures

Giles Cup

Friday March 20th


IT Tralee v TCD, Cork IT, 11:30am

AIT v St. Pat’s, Cork IT, 3:00pm


Final: Saturday, March 21st 1:45pm


Lynch Cup

Friday March 20th


DIT v Waterford IT, Cork IT. 11:00am

Cork IT v DCU, Cork IT, 2:20pm


Final: Saturday, March 21st, 11:45am


Irish Examiner O’Connor Cup


UCC v DCU, Cork IT, 12:00pm

NUI Galway v UL, Cork IT, 3:30pm


Final: Saturday, 3:45pm (Deferred TV coverage from 7:30pm on TG4)

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