Nothing more than local bragging rights at stake here. DCU provided stern examinations of CIT and UCD over the past fortnight, and will be determined to end their campaign with at least one victory.
Both sides will be gunning for victory which brings with it top spot in Group A and a home quarter-final tie. CIT didn’t falter when trailing St Pat’s by eight-points last week, Pat Mulcahy’s charges grinding out the win in resilient fashion. Bill Cooper and John O’Dwyer were rested for the Dublin trip, and will not alone be expected to shoulder scoring responsibility tonight but also curtail the influence of Matthew O’Hanlon and Cillian Buckley in the UCD half-back line. Dublin’s Oisín O’Ruairc staked his claim for a starting berth when hitting 1-6 off the bench for Nicky English’s side against DCU. Wexford full-forward Conor McDonald is expected to again miss out through injury.
With GMIT virtually out of the running for a quarter-final spot, NUIG should comfortably secure a second win. If UCC overcome UL, however, then score difference will come into play between the Galway, Limerick and Cork universities to see who progresses. Seven NUIG hurlers were on the mark in Dangan last Thursday, a similar effort will again be required to see them safely into the last eight.
Wastefulness cost UCC on their travels and Ger Cunningham’s men have no room for error if they are to remain in the competition. Theirs is a forward unit blessed with inter-county talent. Delivering on that potential is now the requirement. Overcoming the influence of UL’s midfield pairing of Tony Kelly and Tipperary’s Jason Forde is another must. Brian Lohan’s charges, though hugely impressive in securing back-to-back victories, have yet to be put to the pin of their collar. Will be interesting to see how they react to the red onslaught likely to materialise from the first whistle at the Mardyke.
IT Carlow bounced back from the defeat to WIT when posting 9-24 against Maynooth. Manager DJ Carey was present in Limerick last Thursday to watch Mary I and will know the challenge facing his troops. David Reidy in attack, Seamus Kennedy at midfield and John Meagher at centre-back are three figures who will have caught his eye. Mary I issued quite the statement of intent when scoring a fully merited 13-point win over Waterford IT. Keep their composure this evening and a home quarter-final draw is theirs.
The injuries to Austin Gleeson and Harry Kehoe aside, WIT were most disappointing when losing to Mary I. Apart from Pauric Mahony, not one WIT forward was willing to stand up and be counted.
Maynooth suffered heavy beatings against both IT Carlow and Mary I, and they won’t be spared either by Colm Bonnar’s side as score difference may well decide the final standings in this group.
An excellent opportunity for the northerners to book a first Fitzgibbon Cup quarter-final appearance. Conor Clarke, Michael Bradley and Ciarán Johnson were their most impressive performers against LIT a fortnight ago but the manner in which they faded dramatically in the final quarter is a huge cause of concern. A 60-minute effort is paramount if they wish to make the last eight. Keeping a tight leash on Wexford and DIT full-forward Jack Guiney is also crucial. For DIT, there was plenty to take from Thursday’s spirited display at home to LIT. Guiney did, however, tally nine of their 14 scores and a one-man show won’t be enough see them through.