By Brendan Larkin
CHAMPIONS Limerick IT open the defence of their Datapac Fitzgibbon Cup today with a tricky first round home tie against Galway IT (Limerick, 2pm).
Last year’s winning captain Eoin Kelly leads their challenge along with Galway’s Niall Healy, Maurice O’Brien (Limerick) and Tipperary’s Shane McGrath.
Their opponents include Galway seniors David Collins and Shane Kavanagh in their line up along with Offaly’s Dylan Haydon and Paul Callanan, who won an All-Ireland minor medal with Galway last year.
University of Limerick travel to the capital this afternoon to take on a St. Pats side back-boned by Kilkenny talents, Richie Power, Paddy Hogan, Darren O’Neill and Eddie Donoghue. The Dublin outfit also include Ger Arthur who won two Harty Cup medals and an All-Ireland college medal with St. Flannan’s in the last two years.
UL have the benefit of winning two rounds of the Waterford Crystal tournament. The Limerick side include Offaly players Brian Carroll and Alan Egan, Ray Hayes (Limerick), Brendan Bugler (Clare) and Kerry’s Tadhg Flynn. UL’s experience should see them through.
With their footballers already in the quarter-finals, Garda will be hoping their hurlers do likewise when they travel to take on DIT. All-Ireland winner Jerry O’Connor has recovered from the exertions of Newtownshandrum’s narrow club semi-final win and with, Vincent Hurley and former Tipp minor James Woodlock will be key to the Garda challenge.
Dublin IT hope to benefit from their great run in the Keogh Cup. After winning two games they failed to Carlow in the final. John Walsh, Martin Phelan, Joe Clarke, captain Willie Lyons and Kevin O’Reilly will all start, but they’ll have to play above themselves to win this game.