Friday 23 February 2018

Kelly blow for holders UL ahead of Mary I derby clash

Tony Kelly is out for at least eight weeks after suffering an ankle ligament injury in Clare training (SPORTSFILE)
Tony Kelly is out for at least eight weeks after suffering an ankle ligament injury in Clare training (SPORTSFILE)

Michael Verney

UL'S hopes of retaining the Fitzgibbon Cup have been dealt a huge blow with Tony Kelly facing at least eight weeks on the sidelines after suffering an ankle ligament injury in Clare training.

The former Hurler of the Year will be sorely missed by Brian Lohan's UL side - and Davy Fitzgerald's Banner side - as they make the short cross-city trip to face Mary Immaculate College.

The Limerick sides, co-favourites for the competition along with hosts CIT, share top spot in the group of death but UL will need their in-form full-forward line of Tipperary duo John McGrath and Tommy Heffernan and Limerick's Kevin O'Brien at their best again after hitting 15 points against DIT.

Similarly, Eamon Cregan's Mary I side will call on Declan Hannon, Treaty team-mate Cian Lynch and Clare's Colm Galvin for a tie which is likely to decide who claims home venue for the quarter-finals.

In a busy day of round two action, All-Ireland-winning players and managers will cross swords when Fitzgerald's LIT welcome Nicky English's UCD to Moylish.

Led by Dublin's Oisín O'Rorke, UCD toppled UCC at the Mardyke, and a win today would leave the Belfield side in a healthy position as they look to end a 15-year barren spell.

Victory in LIT never comes easily, however, and they hit 4-16 in their win against Maynooth. Fitzgerald's side are always formidable opposition in third-level hurling and the manager will be looking for big displays from Diarmaid Byrnes, Peter Duggan and Paul Killeen in what should be a tight affair.

Elsewhere, Galway stars Padraig and Cathal Mannion, as well as Conor Whelan, couldn't prevent NUIG's opening round defeat to Mary I and they face a do-or-die clash with DIT, who caused UL a lot of early problems before fading.

DIT are no forlorn hope and with Lee Chin, Jack Guiney and Derek McNicholas in their ranks, the Dublin side could upset the odds.

In Group B, last year's runners up WIT, powered by Austin Gleeson, should account for a Danny Sutcliffe-led DCU side, who must win to continue their participation.

In the day's other ties, UCC will be fancied to bounce back in style away to Maynooth while CIT, led by John 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer and Jamie Coughlan, will be expected to make the long trip to Jordanstown pay off with a win over Ulster University.

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