Hurlers in last chance saloon

Group C of this season’s Fitzgibbon Cup has been relatively predictable, with UCD securing two wins from two matches and safe passage to the quarter-finals of third-level hurling’s chief competition.

Group rivals DCU and LIT were both defeated by the Belfield outfit which means that Tuesday’s clash in Moylish will determine who will join Nicky English’s side in the next round.

Before the competition started, the bookies seemed to have this fixture down as an effortless triumph for Limerick’s IT; DCU’s odds of winning the tournament were at 200/1, LIT at sevens. Acknowledging a respectable history in the competition, several inter-county players and a manager of Davy Fitzgerald’s experience, it could be said that the Munster unit deserved to be held in such high esteem.

However, GAA isn’t played on paper. Looking at DCU and LIT’s results from their respective clashes with UCD, it’s apparent that the contest on Tuesday will be a closely-fought encounter. In fact, DCU came out with the better result against their Dublin counterparts despite conceding 10 points to All-Star Tipperary forward Noel McGrath.

Crucially, LIT don’t have a player of McGrath’s calibre in their attack and struggled to find scores from open play against UCD in their opening match. Having said that, DCU will need to be surpassingly disciplined to mute LIT’s threat as corner-forward Gary Guilfoyle is prolific from dead-ball situations and his fellow Clare man Sean Collins caused a handful of problems in Belfield too.

Considering that the Limerick institute have home advantage, the form of players such as Padraig Breheny and free-taker Seanie McGrath will need to continue into Tuesday’s crunch-match if the university are to start making significant ripples in the pond of higher education hurling. When the sliotar is thrown in at 1 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, it’s all or nothing for DCU.

Eoin Sheahan

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