After a captivating tournament, the final of the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup takes place on Wednesday with UCC and IT Carlow battling it out for the top honour.
Following their 2019 success, UCC enter the decider as favourites given the calibre of players in their squad. Tom Kingston’s side boasts a number of Cork senior stars, including Darragh Fitzgibbon, Mark Coleman and Shane Kingston, all of whom have played a key role in their journey to the final. Kerry’s Shane Conway remains their top contributor with 30 points from their four games.
After a difficult opener against NUIG, UCC showed their class in their seven-point second-round win over CIT to book their place in the quarter-finals of the competition. The draw pitted them against UCD which resulted in a five-point win on home soil. Their toughest test came against DCU at the semi-final stage with Mark Coleman’s spectacular last-minute sideline rescuing a win for the Cork side.
It has been a dream season for IT Carlow in the Electric Ireland Higher Education competitions, booking their place in both the Sigerson and Fitzgibbon Cup finals. This is only the college’s second-ever Fitzgibbon Cup final following their defeat to Mary Immaculate College in 2017. After suffering heartbreaking knock-out defeats in the seasons since, this is a much welcome return to the decider for DJ Carey’s side.
Like UCC, their panel is filled with notable names with Cathal Dunbar leading the charge while Laois’ Enda Rowland has been an assured figure between the posts. IT Carlow enjoyed a perfect start to the competition with a 3-20 to 1-16 win over UCD before overcoming a strong challenge from GMIT to book their place in the quarter-finals. Their goal-rush continued in the knock-out stages with five goals in both games against NUIG and Mary I. Dunbar has been their main poacher in front of goal, netting twice in their semi-final victory to bring their goal tally to 14 across four games.
Their clinical finishing in front of goal could prove crucial in the decider as it is an area in which UCC have struggled, Oisin Foley denying them three times in their semi-final against DCU DÉ. However, IT Carlow need to be wary of their free count given the form that Conway has been in from placed balls. Carey’s men have a few injury concerns ahead of the final as Seamus Casey sustained a knock in their semi-final while Niall Brassil is also a major doubt following his hamstring injury picked up while on duty for Kilkenny.
It’s the reigning champions and 39-time winners against a side on the hunt for their maiden title. Throw-in at the DCU Sportsgrounds on Wednesday is 7.30pm.
Electric Ireland’s Sigerson, Fitzgibbon and Higher Education Championship campaign, FirstClassRivals, showcases the unique trait of these historic GAA competitions that sees unexpected alliances form when fierce county rivals put aside their differences to play together, challenge together, and win together.
Electric Ireland is proud to support the Higher Education Championships and will live stream a selection of Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cup games. Watch the games and follow the Championship at www.electricireland.ie/hec and be a part of the conversation on social media using the hashtag, #FirstClassRivals or visit @ElectricIreland on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.