As befits a County with Cork’s tradition in Gaelic Games, GAA has occupied a central role in the development of sport in the Cork Institute of Technology. The Cork Regional technical College as it was formally known until its change of title in 1997, first occupied its Bishopstown campus in September 1974. The new college buildings were officially opened by that great Cork GAA exponent Mr. Jack Lynch, Taoiseach of the day, in December 1977.
A student GAA football team had been formed in 1975 and the hurling team commenced playing activities in 1976. The staff of the RTC also had an active GAA club competing in the Cork Inter-firm hurling and football leagues and championships. They won consecutive junior, intermediate, and senior football championships in 1977, 1978, 1979, and were crowned Munster Senior Champions in 1980.
In fact the staff football team were Munster Senior Inter-firm Champions in 1980. Several of its members such as the late Jim Blake, Batt O’Keeffe, Noel Collins, Kevin Kehilly, Liam Hodnett, Eamonn Wall and Sean McCarthy were to play an active part in the promotion and development of student GAA activities in the RTC over the years. Staff versus student matches was a regular feature in those early RTC formative years. Academic or previous sporting achievements were no guarantee of respect or survival in those feisty encounters!!
Success in hurling was achieved quickly by the student hurling team with a Ryan Cup victory in 1977. Starring for RTC that day were Cork Senior Pat Horgan and John Dillon (whose son Eoin is was club chairman from 2008-11, and full back on those year’s Fitzgibbon teams). Offaly’s Aidan Fogarty was captain of the defeated NIHE Limerick (now University of Limerick) team.
RTC Cork gained promotion to Div.1 in 1979 after an extraordinary Div.2 final in Limerick against RTC Galway. The final score in a thrilling match that went to extra time was RTC Cork 2-26, RTC Galway 6-13. The unique feature of this game is the fact that John Cremin of the St. Finbarr’s club in Cork scored a total of 1-21. This is a record for a Comhairle Ardoideachais match. A special inscribed tankard was subsequently presented to John in recognition if this historic achievement.
Life in Div.1 of the hurling league was a topsy turvey affair with regular demotion and promotion over the various years.
However since 1993 we have managed to retain our Div.1 status and have been competing in the Fitzgibbon since 1995. CIT have yet to taste ultimate success in this prestigious competition. We have had many near misses especially in the 2003 final against our nemesis WIT. This was the first ever all IT final.
Student success in football was also achieved quickly with a Div. 3 title in 1978 and hence promotion to Div. 2. This team included county seniors Ger Lynch of Kerry, Cork’s Sean O’Shea and Jimmy Kerrigan whose son Paul is a member of the 2009 CIT Sigerson winning team. The Trench Cup which until 1985 was the premier competition for non-universities was won in 1979. In winning this prestigious competition CRTC had to overcome Belfast Polytech (now UUJ), Sligo RTC, Thomond College of Physical Education who were then the current All Ireland Club Champions, and in the final ,the then Dublin Senior County Football champions St. Pat’s Training College Dublin. Included in this history making team were P J McGarry Mayo, Des Newton Roscommon and captain Cork’s Diarmuid McCarthy. Diarmuid and his son Jonathan created Cork GAA history by becoming the first father and son combination to win Minor Footballs All Irelands.
Promotion to Div. 1 was achieved in 1982, which proved a topsy turvey affair with regular demotion and promotion over the years. Winning the fresher’s football championship in 1991 proved another GAA milestone in CIT. In an all Cork final, which went to a replay, CIT were victorious over local rivals UCC. This completed historic fresher’s double as CIT had already won the hurling again by a victory over UCC. The star of this unique double was Brian Corcoran, later to distinguish himself as one of Cork’s greatest dual players .Backboned by this fresher’s team we again gained promotion to Div. 1 in 1993 and have retained our status ever since.
We first competed in the Sigerson in 1995, but it took until the 28th February 2009 to achieve success in this prestigious competition. When Paul O Flynn from Ballyclough lifted the cup, which was seen live on the TV sets throughout the Island of Ireland and indeed beyond, he catapulted the name of Cork Institute of Technology into sporting world as a place of excellence, a place where sport is given its rightful importance in the holistic development of the person and a place where opportunities are had and dreams come true. We have had many near misses, been beaten by the eventual winners on six occasions, including two semi-finals but finally the "Holy Grail" came to rest in CIT for 2009.
In 2010 the Fresher Footballers were defeated in the All Ireland Championship final by DIT and while we won the Fresher League in 2011 when they overcame UUJ, they yet again lost the All Ireland Championship Final, this time to DCU.
When RTC Cork first opened its campus, the sport’s facilities were both limited and rather unusual, consisting of 2 tennis courts and a hockey pitch. Through the far sighted and enlightened efforts of individuals such as Director Dr. Pat Kelleher and Registrar Brendan Goggin, land was purchased which allowed for the development of the modern sports facilities now available to all codes. These include 3 GAA pitches-fully floodlit, the main one serviced by a 1100 seated stadium, dressing rooms, medical and meeting rooms to the highest standards.
This development as well as the appointment of John Meyler in 1992 and Keith Ricken in 2000 as GAA development officers gave a further impetus to the development and structuring of the GAA in CIT. Where once we were happy to field teams, structures are now set in place and the club is functioning in as a model of that which is envisaged by Cumann Luth-Cleas Geal.
We now field teams in all Comhairle Ardoideachais competitions. Our clubs compete in the Cork Senior Hurling and Football championships. In the year 2003 CIT caused one of the great upsets of recent years when they overcame the then All Ireland Hurling club champions Newtownshandrum in the first round of the Cork county championship. 2009 saw the hurlers reach the County Semi-Final.
All these development increased the financial burden on CIT GAA and we were relieved and delighted with the sponsorship provided by industrial giant EMC of Ballincollig in Cork. This multinational company already had a strong relationship with CIT over the years through student placement and graduate employment. Hence this sponsorship was both a relevant and welcome development.
With over 30 years tradition of 3rd level hurling, CIT was honoured to host the 2008 Fitzgibbon, Ryan and Maher cup competitions, and followed this in 2009 with the hosting of Sigerson, Trench and Corn uí Mhic Léinn Finals weekend .While undoubtedly the Sigerson win was the icing on the cake, the honour of also hosting these events was in itself a very significant moment in the history of the GAA club. Although no easy task the organising committee together with the huge numbers of volunteers ensured that these events ran smoothly and indeed much praise was deservedly heaped on CIT from all sectors of the sporting world for the facilities and the flawless organisation.
Today CIT Student GAA Club has a vibrant club structure which works consistently year after year ensuring that no stone is left unturned both on and off the field of play. It continues to capture the imagination of the students who attend our institute as it has for the huge numbers that have worn the red and white hoops since 1975.