Tradition and home advantage might be enough to see UCC through

THE second semi-final of the Datapac Fitzgibbon Cup has added spice in that it is an all-Cork affair between UCC and Cork IT at the Mardyke today (2pm).

Both teams are short a number of key players because of injury and suspension.

CIT will again be without Paul Tierney (shoulder ligaments) and Gary McLoughlin (hamstring) while Alan O’Connor has opted to play football only this season because of his studies.

UCC are without Kevin Hartnett (suspended), Eamon Collins (cruciate injury), while Tom Kenny and Jonathan Olden are still having treatment and are not expected to be fit.

“This is a first semi-final for us and one we are looking forward to”, said CIT Development Officer Keith Ricken. “We raised a few eyebrows by defeating UCD in the quarter-final last week, but it didn’t surprise those of us close to the scene. We have five hurling teams on the go now and all are involved in their respective competitions.

“When your top team is doing well it has a domino effect on the others and we are determined to make a name for ourselves. We have never beaten UCC in the Fitzgibbon, but there is a view around that we’ll never get a better chance than today.

“John Meyler has done trojan work with our lads. We had a very good league campaign and are in the championship semi-final on merit having defeated two very good teams in Garda College and UCD.

“Should we win, this afternoon it would be a recognition for all the hard work that has been done over the last few years, and would give the college an even higher profile in Gaelic games.

“We had a very difficult week last week which put everything into perspective. A win today would lift the spirits, and we are quite capable of pulling off what would be the shock of the championship.”

UCC coach Bertie Óg Murphy is not one bit surprised that CIT are in the semi-final: “They have been putting in the work and it’s beginning to pay off. Despite the injuries, I would be confident of winning. We have a very strong panel of players and whoever comes in for the injured lads, won’t let the side down. The one area I would be looking for a big improvement is in attack. We need to score more from the amount of possession we win.

“In the recent league final against UL we managed to score only 10 points (UL scored 11). That wouldn’t be good enough this afternoon against a side which has had a very good run to this stage.”

Midfield could be the key area, and the best CIT can hope for is John Gardiner and Stephen O’Sullivan to break even with UCC’s Colin Morrissey and Michael Rice.

UCC may struggle for scores, particularly as CIT are well served in defence by excellent goalkeeper Martin Coleman, current Cork senior Ronan Curran, Vincent Hurley and Michael Prout. In attack CIT will look to Kieran Murphy (Sarsfields), John O’Connor, Aidan Fogarty and Diarmuid O’Riordan, but they’ll face an excellent UCC defence in which Tommy Walsh (Kilkenny), Paudie Gilmartin, Rory McCarthy, and Ronan McGregor are currently hurling well.

Tradition is stacked in UCC’s favour, and coupled with home advantage may be worth a couple of scores which should might be just about enough to see them through to Saturday’s final at The Ragg in Tipperary.

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