Is this the evening IT Carlow finally manage to get over the line, the evening where DJ Carey’s charges deliver the college a historic first Fitzgibbon Cup title?
Despite winning the Division 1 League on five occasions since 2014, including this season, the college has not, as of yet, been able to translate league success into championship silverware.
Consistent though IT Carlow have been during this period, the closest they’ve come to writing their name onto the roll of honour was 2017, the one and only occasion an IT Carlow team have contested the decider.
It was Limerick’s Mary Immaculate College who pipped them to the post on that occasion, these two colleges emerging from the woodwork at different stages during the last decade to challenge the competition’s traditional ruling elite.
But while Mary I achieved back-to-back glory in 2016 and 2017, IT Carlow are still waiting — and yearning — for that breakthrough final win.
If history is not made this evening it will have been because tradition again won through. Reigning champions UCC, who sit atop the earlier mentioned roll of honour with a staggering 39 Fitzgibbon Cup wins to their name, are bidding to make it title number 40 at Glasnevin.
“I have no doubt that IT Carlow want to make their tradition. We want to continue ours, and we’ll see if we can make that count on Wednesday,” said UCC selector Ray Delaney.
UCC’s path to the final, similar to the Galway hurlers in 2017, has been noticeable for their lack of goals.
Shane Kingston, whose uncle Tom is UCC manager, holds the honour of supplying the sole green flag which UCC have managed in their four games to date. His 25th-minute strike in the quarter-final against UCD stands in stark contrast to the 14 goals IT Carlow have registered across the same number of outings, including five apiece in the quarter and semi-final.
But as Delaney is quick to point out, the UCC defence has had very few leaks in recent weeks. Goalkeeper Shane Hurley, beaten twice in the aforementioned UCD fixture, kept his bib clean against NUIG, CIT, and DCU.
The latter contest, no more than their 2019 semi-final meeting, was decided by a single score, Mark Coleman cutting over a sideline deep into second-half stoppages to advance UCC to the decider at DCU’s expense.
“What last Saturday’s win over DCU showed is that we are capable of going to the wire, of holding our composure late on in tight games, and coming out on top,” Delaney remarked.
It was the same as last year, and it was great to see that the lads didn’t panic and were able to again dig us out of a hole.
He continued: “The DCU ‘keeper pulled off three fantastic saves on Saturday. We have had opportunities for goals in other games that we haven’t taken.
"Inter-county goalkeepers simply don’t like being beaten. IT Carlow have been fairly prolific in scoring goals, while we’ve been fairly decent at stopping goals.
"With regard to the final, it will be about turning up on the day, putting in a performance, and hopefully we will come out on the right side of the result.”