Moran to aid UCC's Fitzgibbon ambitions
WATERFORD star Kevin Moran returns from last weekend's club heartbreak with De La Salle to give University College Cork a timely boost ahead of today's Ulster Bank Fitzgibbon Cup semi-finals at Waterford IT.
The Cork college, holders of a record 40 titles -- the latest won just two years ago -- managed to beat a fancied UCD side without Moran in the quarter-final and are already brimming with inter-county talent like Conor O'Sullivan and Willie Egan (Cork), Graeme Mulcahy and Bryan O'Sullivan (Limerick), Darach Honan (Clare) and Michael Cahill (Tipperary). But they're facing a hungry Limerick IT side in the second of today's semi-finals (2.30).
This time last year the final of third-level hurling's blue riband was hotly tipped to be an all-Limerick affair between the University of Limerick and Limerick IT yet both suffered shock semi-final defeats, with LIT knocked out by eventual champions NUIG.
Now LIT are back, still guided by Davy Fitzgerald and with Joe Canning now in a backroom team that also includes Cyril Farrell.
Too much has probably been read into their thrashing (6-16 to 0-9) of NUIG in the quarter-finals as the Galway side lost some key players this year, not least John Lee.
But it's fair to say that LIT, who also beat UCD and last year's finalists Waterford IT in the group stages, are on a serious mission here.
On the pitch they're led by Clare's James McInerney, Sean Collins and Bernard Gaffney, Limerick's Paul Browne and Paudie O'Brien and Laois' Willie Hyland and their battle with UCC promises to be a clash of titans.
Last year's other beaten semi-finalists, UL, are the obvious favourites on the other side against a Cork IT team still chasing their first title (12.30).
CIT have got Cork footballer Aidan Walsh, rising Kilkenny star Colin Fennelly, Limerick's Tommy Quaid and Cork's Eoin Dillon plus another De La Salle man in Stephen Daniels and the advantage of that 'underdogs' tag.
But they face a UL side that is crammed with big inter-county names.
The Plassey side's defence, which hasn't conceded a goal yet, includes Seamus Hickey (Limerick), Michael 'Brick' Walsh (Waterford), Paddy Stapleton (Tipp) and Brendan Bugler (Clare).
Pa Cronin (Cork) and David Burke (Galway) man their midfield in front of an attack that features Offaly sharpshooter Shane Dooley and Tipperary's Paul Kelly.
After losing finals in 2005 and 2009, UL look likely to reach the decider again and could go all the way.