Coláiste na Sceilge chase title hat-trick

DEFENDING champions Coláiste na Sceilge will be at full strength for tomorrow’s Irish Examiner Corn Uí Mhuirí clash with St Fachtna’s at Fitzgerald Stadium (1pm).

The Caherciveen school are chasing a hat-trick of titles which, if they succeed, would be a phenomenal achievement given that this is only their third year competing at this level.

Tomorrow’s quarter-final is going to be a huge test for the champions as they can call on only two of last year’s winning combination, Brian Sheehan and Michael Curran.

“We’ve had to build a new team this year and the fact that we are still on course is a testament to the talent we have at our disposal,” said team coach Jack O’Connor.

“There is no talk of winning three titles in a row. This present team are only concerned about winning for themselves. We’ve made steady progress since the beginning of the season winning the Kerry title recently, but I still don’t know how good the team is.

"By all accounts Fachtna’s are reputed to be an excellent team and we’ll have to be at our very best to beat them. If nothing else, we’ll make it very awkward for them tomorrow.”

After two seasons in goal, Brian Sheehan is now out an outfield player and forms a very solid midfield with Sean O’Shea.

Defensively, Na Sceilge are excellent and the Fachtna’s forwards will earn their scores off Cillian Young, Colm O’Sullivan and Timmy O’Sullivan.

Up front, Paul O’Connor and Dermot Walsh will pose a lot of problems for the Fachtna’s defence.

In the recent Cork colleges final, the Skibbereen side were denied victory by a late Críost Rí goal in a magnificent contest, which should stand them in good stead for tomorrow’s clash.

After a couple of seasons in the doldrums, Fachtna’s have put together an excellent team this season and if Brian O’Dwyer, Seán Murray, Jer Newman, David Limerick and Conor Long repeat their form of a week ago, then the champions could be in for a difficult hour.

Coláiste Chríost Rí, who won the Simcox for the third year running, will be without Joe Shanahan for their clash with Dingle CBS at Dr Crokes Grounds tomorrow (2pm).

Shanahan is serving a suspension which has had to be carried over because of the closed season. It’s difficult to understand the logic behind that decision as there is no closed season for colleges.

Team coach Mick Evans has taken no chances with Dingle and had his charges out over the Christmas holidays. “I’m expecting a right battle from Dingle,” said Evens.

“There has been little said about them and that would worry me.”

Like Fachtna’s, Críost Rí will have benefited from Simcox Cup final. Ray Keating, Jonathan Lane, Chris Murphy and Paul Kerrigan will spearhead their challenge and it should be just about good enough, despite the best efforts of David Geaney, Muiris MacGearailt, Aidan O’Neill and Mark Evans.

The all-Cork clash of Douglas Community School and Coláiste Choim tomorrow is fixed for Ovens with a 2pm throw-in, and this is a game that could go either way.

Douglas are the surprise packet of this year’s championship. It’s their first season competing at this level and have exceeded all expectations.

Their team is back-boned by the local club minor team who have enjoyed a lot of success in recent weeks winning two county titles last month.

One of those victories was over Ballincollig for whom a lot of the Choilms lads will be playing tomorrow.

However, according to team official Mark Halpin, there is concern about the availability of Pat Kelly who stil has a hand in plaster following a recent injury.

A place in the last four beckons for Douglas but only if Eoin Cadigan, David O’Connor, Stephen Bermingham, Mark Harrington and Kenny Barry are on top of their game.

Many of the Choilms players will have won Munster colleges medals in the lower grades.

The Frewen and Moran Cups were won in 2000 and if that experience is carried forward, players like Daniel Goulding, Alan O’Donovan, Niall Horgan and Conor Barrett could spoil the party for Douglas.

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