UL target winning start to Fitzgibbon Cup defence
Brian Lohan's University of Limerick go in search of back-to-back Fitzgibbon Cup titles for the first time in their history when they take on DIT in one of seven fixtures down for decision in the competition's opening round.
The Limerick side retain some of the star names that captured the title last year including Clare pair Tony Kelly (above) and Cathal McInerney as well as Tipperary duo Jason Forde and Brian Stapleton but they will know that a winning start is vital given the strength of the four teams in Group C.
DIT haven't made the weekend of the independent.ie sponsored competition since 2007 but as they showed when beating an experimental Kilkenny side in the Walsh Cup, they mean business this time around. Wexford stars Lee Chin, Conor McDonald and Jack Guiney will be expected to provide the bulk of their resistance.
NUI Galway and Mary Immaculate College from Limerick make up the other fixture in the group with the former able to call on four players who lined out in last year's All-Ireland final in Mannion brothers Padraig and All-Star Cathal, Conor Whelan and John Hanbury.
The Limerick outfit are not short on class themselves with Limerick's Declan Hannon and Cian Lynch available.
Elsewhere, Ciaran Kilkenny is expected to get a rare taste of top-class hurling when lining out for St Pat's/Mater Dei but his side are up against it as they welcome Austin Gleeson's WIT to Drumcondra.
The DJ Carey-managed Carlow IT will look to build on their league title win when they take on DCU.
Maynooth take on LIT. Finally, CIT, beaten finalists in 2002, 2012 and 2014, start their bid for a first Fitzgibbon Cup when they face GMIT.