Both participants in this weekend’s Fitzgibbon Cup final are unbeaten to date, yet one side has been completely written off. Can DCU land an early candidate for shock of the year and defeat UL this weekend?
It’s not often that a finalist will find themselves 13/2 underdogs, yet these are the odds being handed to the students of DCU this weekend. This is of course, despite their unbeaten record so far.
Not only have they gone undefeated, but DCU have also taken out some big names on the way.
The men from the capital were 11/4 underdogs prior to their campaign opener this year as they faced LIT. A late Patrick Curran point saw DCU emerge victorious on that occasion.
In their quarter-final, many tipped reigning champions Mary I to progress to the last four at the expense of DCU.
Again, they showed their heart with the game level in additional time to rally for two late points and advance to the next round.
Arguably, the most impressive performance came in their last fixture as local rivals DIT were easily dismantled to see them reach a historic first Fitzgibbon Cup final.
Not only have this talented DCU side shown plenty of heart to date, they also possess an impressive bunch of inter-county hurlers.
Eoghan O’Donnell is quickly becoming one of the more respected defenders in the game and is a powerhouse at full-back. Paudie Foley’s value to Wexford has already been shown in his short time back with Davy Fitz’s side.
Up front, the Glasnevin college have got plenty to choose from.
Donal Burke is probably the main man for north-side Dublin college. Alongside him, he’s got plenty of support from some of the country’s most exciting young talents.
Waterford duo Curran and Peter Hogan of Ballygunner have chipped in with some important scores, while John Donnelly and Rian McBride will also prove a handful for any defence.
The question is will all this be enough to take down this heavily tipped UL side?
It’s not often we see a college side littered with so much talent, UL have steamrolled their way through this competition to date.
It’s not as if they’ve been gifted with a particularly easy route to the final either.
To date, they’ve taken down semi-finalists DIT, a talented UCC side and an in-form IT Carlow outfit, and they’ve pretty much slaughtered all three.
If you want to get an understanding of how talented this UL side really are, take a look at some of these names, Barry Heffernan, Ronan Lynch, Pat Ryan and Mike Casey.
The reason for naming these four is that all four are senior inter-county hurlers, yet Heffernan did not start their quarter-final, Ryan is yet to start a game, while Lynch and Casey have helped Na Piarsaigh to the All-Ireland club final.
Despite this, the UL starting XV will be flooding with inter-county talent. Stars such as Tony Kelly, Jason Forde, John McGrath, Conor Cleary and David Fitzgerald, and that’s just to name a few, this list goes on.
However, the talent is just a part of what makes this side special. The half-back line has appeared unbeatable in the air at times, and the back-line, in general, have excelled at transition defence to attack.
And when that ball is transitioned to attack, this UL side sure know how to execute their killer instinct.
The movement of Tom Morrissey and Ian Galvin on the wings creates piles of space for the inside trio of John McGrath, Jason Forde and Barry Murphy to shoot to kill.
Keep an eye out for the UL attack beginning their runs from a narrow formation, which opens up the wings for their lightning-quick forwards to burst into.
This UL side has the potential to go down as one of the greatest sides to ever win a Fitzgibbon Cup, but make no mistake, DCU will have plans to shock the hurling world.
Kevin Daly, Pundit Arena
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