After a long hard season, it all comes down to one last game tonight as UCC and Cobh Wanderers go head to head at The Mardyke (7.45pm) to determine who is crowned Beamish Stout Munster Senior League Premier Division champions.
Noel Healy’s UCC go into the final game of the season two points ahead of Wanderers and know a draw will be good enough for them to claim the trophy at the famous old venue.
However, Healy’s side only know one way of playing judging by the 38 league goals they have scored this season so they certainly will be not be sitting back hoping for the point they need.
Michael Deasy’s Cobh Wanderers, on the other hand, know a win is a must if they are to secure a Premier Division title for the first time in the club’s history and avoid more heartache this season.
Wanderers will still be sore after losing the FAI Intermediate Cup final on penalties to Liffey Wanderers earlier this month at the Aviva Stadium. And then losing out to Ringmahon Rangers in the Beamish Cup final last week, so they will be keen to make it third time lucky in what really is their third cup final in a few short weeks.
UCC had a poor start to the season and were written off early on but having gained momentum with a few wins, Healy’s side haven’t looked back since and have been in superb form since the turn of the year.
The majority of the side are still there from last season and will be hoping to have learned from last years’ experience when they were outclassed in the last game of the season against Avondale, in what was another title decider at Avondale Park.
The students have Sean McLoughlin, Daniel Pender, Ben McAuliffe, and Shane Daly-Butz included in the Irish Colleges squad for the upcoming friendly with France. And they will all need to be on top form against a more physical and experienced Wanderers side, with former Cork City favourite Michael Devine between the sticks, Cobh having only conceded 15 league goals this season.
UCC have only conceded one more but know they’ll need to keep the prolific Ian Stapleton in check along with the skilful Conor Meade if they are to capture the title.
Both sides have played a huge amount of games this season having been involved in cup competitions but Healy’s side have had a bit of a break since their last league game against Rockmount. Deasy had the luxury of resting a few players at the weekend as they got the better of Rockmount in the O’Connell Cup so he’ll be hoping his players benefit from a week off.
UCC go into the game the fresher of the two sides due to Wanderers’ hectic schedule over the last few weeks, which may just swing it the students’ way in what would a cap fantastic season for Healy’s youngsters having already claimed the Collingwood Cup this season.
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