A first home draw in a decade has UCC’s men hoping they can finally make waves in the Irish Junior Cup.
The Cork students notched their first win in this competition in 17 years when beating NICS 2-1 in Belfast 12 months ago, only to fall 3-1 away to an accomplished Annadale outfit in round two.
Away first round draws had become something of a running joke in the club but now they can finally grace the Mardyke, although with Lisnagarvey their visitors, they could hardly have asked for tougher opponents.
College are as strong as they’ve ever been on paper at this level though, with the majority of players boasting Munster representative experience, and sit atop their provincial league with three wins from four. Andy Colton’s drag-flicks and Greg Chambers’ pace up top could prove crucial.
Across town, Cork C of I are also dreaming of national glory as they tackle UCD at Garryduff. The last Munster side to win this tournament, in 2009, haven’t lived up to their potential since, but can turn to Ireland U18 hit man Simon Wolfe to provide the spark they need.
Cork Harlequins’ domestic struggles have been well documented but they can still field a strong second outfit at home to South Antrim without first-team commitments to worry about. They will, however, miss David Egner as he heads to Belfast in his coaching capacity with Quins women.
UCC’s women will get a major test of their resurgent strength as they host a powerful Railway Union outfit in the opening round of the women’s Irish Junior Cup.
Under Malcolm Coombes’ tutelage, College have been in impressive domestic form after a couple of poor seasons which saw them relegated to Division 3, but Railway will represent a massive step up in quality.
Cork C of I host Old Alex with eye-catching young talent like Joanne Schiller and Louise Egan looking to make a big impact, while Cork Harlequins are the only Munster side forced to hit the road, Ulster Elks awaiting them in Belfast.
The defending champions of both competitions are also away, with Monkstown’s men making the short hop across south Dublin to meet Corinthian while the women of Pembroke Wanderers are Ulster-bound to lock horns with Randalstown.
Domestically, Munster’s top tier fixtures are spread over five days as clubs give their IJC teams every chance of success.
Cork C of I hosted UCC late last night while there are two games on Saturday; UL will take heart from Limerick’s doughty performance in losing 2-0 to Cork Harlequins last week as it’s the students’ turn to visit the champions, while Bandon’s clash with Ashton is a battle for mid-table security. Ashton are in action again next Tuesday as they host Fermoy.
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