Ever since CIT lost their battle to remain in the Sigerson Cup, their sole focus has been on securing the swiftest possible return to top-level colleges football.
Those involved in CIT GAA club were none too pleased with the manner in which they were demoted to the second-tier Trench Cup earlier this season, CIT’s championship status, though they did not know it at the time, decided by their relegation from the Division 1 league in November of 2018.
Yes, CIT lost both of their Sigerson Cup games last season, but so too did others, and yet it was the Cork college, because of their league relegation play-off defeat to IT Sligo, who dropped a rung on the championship ladder for the 2019/20 campaign.
Victory this evening would return CIT to the top table, and, truthfully, there’s been little to suggest en route to the final that Conor Kelleher’s side won’t achieve their stated aim. CIT won their quarter-final by 14 points, their semi by nine.
“The lads all know they only have the college jersey for a short time. We would have always challenged them to pass it on in as good a shape as they inherited it, and, ideally, in a better way than they inherited it.
"There are a number of lads in this team who are in their fourth year of college. I have said to them that we got ourselves into this hole, whereby the club got relegated, and this is their chance to put the situation right,” said manager Conor Kelleher.
Reflecting on how CIT came to end up in the Trench Cup, Kelleher, a marketing lecturer at the college and a native of White’s Cross, added: “We were a small bit disappointed and surprised. We did lose last season’s relegation final in the league, but for some bizarre reason, we were also relegated from the championship as a consequence of that. We felt a bit aggrieved by that and so contested [the decision].
"CIT GAA development officer Keith Ricken would have done a lot of work to maintain our Sigerson status this year.
“But once we realised our fate, the lads, to be fair to them, dug in and endeavored to get us back up to Sigerson as quickly as possible.”
CIT overcame Dundalk IT in the semi-final last month, a reversal of their Division 2 league semi-final meeting. CIT were without injured Cork senior Killian O’Hanlon for that penultimate round win, but the midfielder will feature today.
Unavailable, however, are Aidan Browne (suspended), as well as Blake Murphy and Sean Fitzgerald (both injured). Forward James Crean will undergo a fitness test this morning to determine whether he plays any part in CIT’s promotion bid.
“Mary I gave us a walkover when we were due to meet in the group stages of the league. They must have known that we were going to meet later in the year and so were holding their cards close to their chest! They have Cathail O’Mahony and Sean Meehan in their ranks. They are going to be tough opponents.”
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