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Limerick IT's Fitzgibbon hopes hit by Canning loss

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Joe Canning. Photo: Sportsfile

Joe Canning. Photo: Sportsfile

Joe Canning. Photo: Sportsfile

THE only certainty heading into this weekend's 100th staging of the Fitzgibbon Cup is that the trophy will be staying in Munster -- and more precisely, either Limerick or Cork.

After that, it's anyone's guess. The bookmakers have installed hosts UCC as tentative favourites at 7/4 while Limerick IT are outsiders at 9/2, with a shoulder injury to Joe Canning doing serious damage to their prospects.

However, with Davy Fitzgerald in charge, Cyril Farrell acting as a selector and players like Richie McCarthy (Limerick), John O'Keeffe (Tipperary) and Cathal McInerney (Clare) in their ranks, they can prove an awkward proposition for Cork IT this afternoon.

They hit 1-20 in their last-eight clash with Galway-Mayo IT. However, Canning's absence blunts their attacking options against an experienced Cork IT side, who reached the Cork county final last year.

Managed by former Cork hurler Pat Mulcahy, they put 4-11 on NUI Galway in the last round, when three green flags inside the opening 17 minutes secured their passage, with Limerick's Timmy Quaid hitting 2-6.

impressive

Kilkenny's Colin Fennelly also impressed in attack, with Jamie Coughlan putting in an impressive shift in midfield, while Stephen White and Patrick O'Connor were solid in a defence that conceded just 1-3 from play in that match.

It's the other semi-final that will grab the limelight this afternoon when the favourites and hosts UCC take on reigning champions UL, who are hoping to become the first team in seven years to win back-to-back Fitzgibbon Cups.

However, the likes of Seamus Hickey -- who was picked at corner-back on the Fitzgibbon team of the century -- Shane Dooley, PJ Delaney and Brian Carroll have moved on since that success.

Yet UL, who are coached by Brian Lohan, can still call on the likes of captain Paddy Stapleton, Paudie Maher and Clare's Brendan Bugler in defence, while all six of their starting forwards scored from play in their quarter-final success over Carlow IT.

UCC were the last team to book their spot on the weekend when they saw off UCD in their quarter-final, with Shane Bourke at the centre of everything good they did.

The Tipp native hit 1-6 in that match, while in defence Cork senior William Egan was superb as they finished strongly to ensure a crack at a 41st Fitzgibbon Cup title for the Cork University, which would move them 11 titles clear at the top of the Fitzgibbon Cup roll of honour.

Irish Independent