University of Limerick 3-13, UCD 0-12 – Martin Scanlon summarises UCD’s recent loss in the All Ireland Senior Hurling League final against University of Limerick, and examines the college’s chances in the Fitzgibbon Cup
UCD’s senior hurling team’s preparations for the Fitzgibbon Cup suffered a setback at the hands of University of Limerick in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling League Final last Tuesday night. The ten-point defeat does little to reflect the overall balance of a game, which gradually slipped away from UCD in the second half.
Leading 0-5 to 0-2 after a promising opening fifteen minutes, UCD’s concession of a soft penalty proved to be the key moment in the match. Its conversion to level the game rejuvenated the Limerick side, which grew in composure for the remainder of the first half to lead by a three-point margin at the half time whistle.
The second half performance by the UCD players failed to do justice to their undoubted qualities as UL steadily increased the gap. A Limerick goal in the final minutes of the game added an unflattering gloss to the final score. Speaking to The University Observer after the game, coach Nigel Skehan gave an honest assessment of how UL’s greater efficiency was the difference on the night.
“They’re a good team and they took their chances. When we made mistakes, they capitalised upon them like any good team would. It’s about trying to learn from those errors now.”
Attention now turns to the Fitzgibbon Cup, the premier third-level hurling competition. Preparations in the build-up to the cup have otherwise been positive. Two days prior to the final loss, UCD recorded a 4-21 to 3-10 victory over Antrim in the opening round of the Walsh Cup.
The draw for the group stages hasn’t been favourable to the college side in search of their first success since 2001 with Group B also containing Cork IT, DIT and NUI Galway. Skehan recognises that these are “three very strong teams” but believes that UCD have “nothing to fear from any of them, having equivalently good players and being as good a team as anyone in the competition.” The top three sides in the group will qualify for the quarter final stages.
Looking through the panel boasting an abundance of players with senior inter-county experience, Skehan has right to be confident. Those in the ranks include Sean Cummins, an All-Ireland medalist with Kilkenny last year, David Kenny from Offaly and Dubliners Joey Boland, Liam Rushe and David ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan. If such players can replicate their performances for their respective counties onto the college scene, they have a great chance of reaching the final stages, which are being held in Galway this year.
For the time being, the attitude in the camp is one of “taking one game at a time”, so all focus remains on the first match against CIT in Cork this Thursday, 4th February.