FITZGIBBON CUP PREVIEW

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Fitgibbon Cup Preview

The Fitzgibbon Cup started a couple of weeks ago and is due to enter the concluding round of the initial group stages next week. The annual university competitions always produces some of the best hurling of the year, despite being held in some of the most inclement conditions. The standard of both managers and players in the competition is high, and though dominated in recent years by Limerick sides, there will be plenty of competition from UCD, UCC amongst others as the competition reaches a fever pitch over the next few weeks.

The competitions quarter finals will take place on Valentines Day, with the semi-finals and final taking place on consecutive days in Pearse Stadium on the 24thand 25th of February. Here we take a look at all teams participating in the competition as well as some of the most likely contenders for victory.

Group A

Mary I Limerick

Team Manager: Jamie Wall

Star Players: Ronan Maher (Tipperary) Cian Lynch (Limerick) Colm Galvin (Clare)

Last title: 2015/16 (1 title)

Last year’s performance: Winners

Record so far: beat GMIT (2-31 to 0-16) Drew with IT Carlow (0-18 to 0-18)

Having won last year’s competition, they are definitely one of the favourites for this year. Certainly, looking at their heavyweight line up, they are easily one of the strongest squads. Will be disappointed to have only drawn their second game against Carlow IT but should definitely be in the reckoning at the latter stages of the competition.

Prediction: Finalists

Ronan Maher - Mary I Limerick & Tipperary Hurler
Ronan Maher – Mary I Limerick & Tipperary Hurler

GMIT

Team Manager: Michael Ryan

Star Players: Jarlath Mannion (Galway) Alan Ward (Galway)

Last title: Never won

Last year’s performance: Quarter Final

Record so far: Lost to Mary I (2-31 to 0-16) lost to DIT (3-15 to 0-11)

Performed admirably to reach the quarter finals of last year’s competition but for a small college without a massive hurling tradition was a big ask to emerge from a tough group. As such the performances have not been good enough as they were soundly beaten by Mary I and DIT. Next week’s game against Carlow IT is hardly likely to be any easier.

Prediction: Already eliminated

 

Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT)

Manager: Derek Brennan

Star Players: Liam Blanchfield (Kilkenny) Jack Guiney (Wexford)

Last title: Never won

Last year’s performance: First Round

Record so far: Lost to Carlow It (4-18 to 1-15) Beat GMIT (3-15 to 0-11)

Prediction: First Round elimination

A team lacking somewhat in star power, and already on the back foot having lost to Carlow in their first game. Very unlikely to beat Mary I in the next game so qualification is a long shot.

 

CARLOW IT

Manager: DJ Carey

Star Players: Chris Bolger Kevin Kelly (Kilkenny)

Last title: Never won

Last year’s performance: Quarter Final

Record so far: Beat DIT (4-18 to 1-15) Drew with Mary I (0-18 to 0-18)

Prediction: Quarter Final

A big name manager but a relatively unknown squad. They have done superbly well in their first two games to get 3 points. If they get top of their group (by heavily beating an already eliminated GMIT) they will fancy their chances of a long run in the competition.

DJ Carey - Carlow IT Manager
DJ Carey – Carlow IT Manager

 

GROUP B
University of Limerick

Team Manager: Brian Lohan

Star Players: John McGrath (Tipperary) Stephen Bennett (Waterford)

Last title: 2014/15 (5 titles)

Last year’s performance: Finalists

Record so far: Beat CIT (2-23 to 0-16) Beat NUI Galway (2-21 to 2-12)

Prediction: Winners

Have a massively talented panel and have been very clinical in winning their opening 2 games. Only barely beaten in the final last year. Will fancy their chances of going one better this year.

 

NUIG

Manager: Tony Ward

Star Player: Conor Whelan (Galway), Conor Cleary (Clare)

Last title: 2009/10 (10 titles)

Last year’s performance: First Round Exit

Record so far: Beat St Patricks (4-14 to 1-12) Lost to UL (2-21 to 2-12)

Prediction: Quarter Finals

Eliminated at the first round stage last year, they have benefitted from being in a somewhat weaker group this year and will fancy their chances of making the next stage. Hard to see them progressing much further after that due to their lack of squad depth.

 

Cork Institute of Technology

Team Manager: Frank Flannery

Star Players: Michael Kearney (Waterford) Michael Cahalane (Cork)

Last title: Never won

Last year’s performance: Quarter Final

Record so far: Lost to UL (2-23 to 0-16) Beat St Pats (1-14 to 0-06)

Prediction: First Round

Facing into a winner takes all game against NUIG next week. Will fancy their chances of securing a victory from that game but unlikely to see their challenge go much further.

 

ST Pat’s Teacher Training College

Team Manager: Patrick Spellacy

Star Players: Martin Og Storey (Wexford) Billy Ryan (Kilkenny)

Last title: Never won

Last year’s performance: First Round Exit

Record so far: Lost to NUIG (4-14 to 1-12) Lost to CIT (1-14 to 0-06)

Prediction: Already eliminated

One of the smallest colleges in the country and with very few big name players their run in the competition was always likely to be short lived. It has proved to be the case.

 

GROUP C

LIMERICK IT

Manager: Davy Fitzgerald

Star Players: David Reidy (Clare) Shane Bennett (Waterford)

Last title: 2006/07 (1 title)

Last year’s performance: Semi Final

Record so far: Beat Trinity (4-21 to 0-07) Beat DCU (2-12 to 0-15)

Prediction: Semi-finals

The biggest name manager in the competition. One of the best squads. Given those resources it’s likely they will be thereabouts come the end of the competition but may just be edged out by the other Limerick sides greater firepower.

Davy Fitzgerald - Limerick IT manager
Davy Fitzgerald – Limerick IT manager

 

DCU

Manager: Nick Weir

Star Players: Patrick Curran (Waterford)

Last title: Never Won

Last year’s performance: First Round Exit

Record so far: Beat WIT (1-14 to 1-10) Lost to LIT (2-12 to 0-15)

Prediction: Quarter Final

Had a massive win in their first game against WIT and forced Limerick IT to the pin of their collar in their second game. Almost certainly will get through to the next stage but likely to be facing into a very tough quarter final against either UCD or UCC.

 

Waterford Institute of Technology

Team Manager: Ray O’Brien

Star Players: Austin Gleeson (Waterford) Andrew Joyce (Cork)

Last title: 2013/14 (9 titles)

Last year’s performance: Quarter Final

Record so far: Lost to DCU (1-14 to 1-10) Beat Trinity (4-15 to 1-08)

Prediction: First Round exit

Historically one of the best teams in the competition and were particularly strong at the start of the 00’s but the current crop doesn’t seem to be producing at the level of their predecessors. Austin Gleeson is probably the best player in the tournament but has been missing for the last couple of games. Suffered a shock defeat against DCU in the first game. Only an unlikely victory over Limerick IT will save them now.

 

Trinity College Dublin

Team Manager: Shane O’Brien

Star Players: Cian O’Sullivan, Fionn Ó Riain-Broin (Dublin)

Last title: Never won

Last year’s performance: Didn’t enter

Record so far: Lost to Limerick IT (4-21 to 1-07) Lost to WIT (4-15 to 1-08)

Prediction: Already eliminated

A college without any sort of hurling pedigree whatsoever. This is their first Fitzgibbon Cup entry in over 70 years. Nice to see them in the competition, but it was always likely to be short lived.

 

GROUP D

NUI Maynooth

Manager: Liam Hogan

Star Players: Padraig Walsh (Kilkenny) Brian Molloy (Galway)

Last title: 1973/74 (2 titles)

Last year’s performance: First Round Exit

Record so far: Lost to UCD (0-21 to 0-13) Beat University of Jordanstown (4-23 to 1-07)

Prediction: First Round exit

A small college who were drawn in a tough group. Will face off UCD in a winner takes all clash next week, and although they have some quality in their ranks, they are unlikely to pull off a victory.

 

University College Dublin (UCD)

Manager: Nicky English

Star Players: Cillian Buckley (Kilkenny) Tadhg De Burca (Waterford)

Last title: 2000/01 (32 titles)

Last year’s performance: Semi Final

Record so far: Beat Maynooth University (0-21 to 0-13) Lost to UCC (1-08 to 1-05)

Prediction: Quarter Finals

Given their level of star power they will have been desperately disappointed to have lost their second game against UCC. Should be able to make the next stage but are likely to find it difficult against Limerick IT in a probable heavyweight quarter-final.

Tadhg de Burca - UCD & Waterford Hurler
Tadhg de Burca – UCD & Waterford Hurler

 

University College Cork

Team Manager: Tom Kingston

Star Players: John Power (Kilkenny) Alan Cadogan (Cork)

Last title: 2012/13 (38 titles)

Last year’s performance: First Round Exit

Record so far: Beat UCD (1-08 to 1-05) Beat UUJ (5-13 to 2-04)

Prediction: Semi-finals

Will have been delighted to have beaten UCD in a heavyweight group clash. Alan Cadogan has been on fire up front so far but will their squad be strong enough to withstand the big tests that await them in the quarters and semi’s?

 

Ulster University Jordanstown

Team Manager: Terence McNaughton

Star Players: James McNaughton Nicky McKeague (Antrim)

Last title: Never won

Last year’s performance: First Round Exit

Record so far: Lost to UCC (5-13 to 2-04) Lost to Maynooth University (4-23 to 1-07)

Prediction: First Round exit

A college very much without a hurling tradition, it was always unlikely they would progress far in the competition and, barring a miracle, they will likely see their interest ended next week.

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