Hosts UCC bid for berth in final

HOSTS UCC are injury-free for today's Datapac Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final against UCD at the Mardyke (12.30pm start).

Coach Alan Browne is optimistic about reaching the final.

"Our display against defending champions Limerick IT last week was excellent and more of the same would do nicely.

"However, UCD are a big strong side who, like ourselves went into their quarter-final against UL as underdogs but performed well on the day.

"As hosts we want to be in Saturday's final, but must play to the peak of our powers to make it."

UCD mentor Dave Billings is keeping his fingers crossed that two of his Tipperary inter-county players, Paul Ormonde and Diarmuid Fitzgerald, will be fit to play. Both are receiving intensive treatment for hamstring injuries. Pa Morrissey, another Tipperary senior, is ruled out with a knee injury.

UCD caused a surprise when beating UL by 11 points on their own ground, and won't have any fears of the host club.

Billings said: "Whoever wants it most will win it. UCC are reputed to be a very good outfit and any team that beats the holders on their home ground must be fancied.

"Against UL we played extremely well and if we can repeat that form, I would be reasonably confident of advancing to the final.

"We beat UCC in the 2001 final after a replay and this affords them a chance to make amends. They have a very strong team with a host of inter-county players but we have prepared well and won't be found wanting."

The second semi-final involves Waterford IT and NUI Galway (2.30pm) at the same venue. WIT, who won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004, include three players - Philip Brennan, Hugh Moloney and Brian Dowling - who are looking for their third medal.

Team official Damien Young reports no injury problems and is cautiously optimistic his side can make it to Saturday's final.

"The bulk of our players are on their last year in college and will want to go out in a blaze of glory," he said.

"In our quarter-final against Cork IT last week, the wind was a major factor. We played against it and defended superbly to be only two points down at half-time. That first-half display won it for us really.

"Rory Jacob and Brian Dowling were our main marksmen, accounting for 1-8 between them. Hopefully, their scoring touch won't desert them this afternoon.

"NUI Galway are a bit of an unknown for us but have enough good hurlers to pose a lot of problems for us."

The Galway side made heavy work of defeating DIT in the quarter-final and according to team official Adrian Hassett will have to improve greatly.

"It's been a mark of Galway teams over the years that when we go in as favourites we fail to perform. Thankfully, we are going in against WIT as complete underdogs and that suits us fine.

"The only injury doubt we have is to our captain Gerry O'Grady (Clare). He injured a finger in the National League against Galway two weeks ago and is struggling to be ready. We'll give him every chance to make it but time is rapidly running out.

"For once we don't have any well known inter-county players. Our team is very even but we'll have to come out of the blocks a lot quicker than we did against DIT as this is regarded as an exceptional WIT side."

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