UCC Fitzgibbon manager Tom Kingston was relieved following his side’s narrow two-point victory over NUIG in Galway on Sunday.
UCC were hot favourites pre-match, but it was a very close game that was not wrapped up until stoppage time. In a three-team group it puts the College one step away from the knockout phase.
Kingston felt the game was a great advertisement for third-level hurling.
“I am relieved that we got through it. It was so close and so tight. NUIG played really well. Our lads never gave up, they fought to the end and we got two late points to win. Overall it was a great game of hurling. Great advert for the Fitzgibbon Cup,” he said.
Kingston felt that travelling to Galway made this game very tough and he recalls losing more games up there than he managed to win.
“Coming up to Galway playing in the Fitzgibbon Cup always is a really, really, tough game to get. I remember losing more matches than winning up here so like credit to both teams, they gave it everything and both teams should be proud of themselves.
“We knew coming up. it’s easy for somebody to give you the favourites tag, but we knew coming to Galway today that there’s nothing between us.
“There was never going to be anything between us. We knew how good NUIG are and you’re playing in their home pitch.
“It was a great game and a bit of luck was with us towards the end but fair play to our lads — they never gave up and they went all the way,” the UCC manager said.
The holders face CIT in their next group game and they will be hot favourites to progress again. Kingston feels that will be a very close tie and stated that the games are always close when those sides meet.
“It’s the same thing always — there’s never ever much more than a puck of a ball between ourselves and CIT. It will be the same again next Sunday,” he said.
It is extremely tough to balance playing college and inter-county nowadays with the demands placed on county players.
Tom’s brother Kieran is the Cork senior hurling manager, so he is unlikely to have any issues in that sense, though there are players from various counties represented on the UCC side including the impressive Paddy O'Loughlin, Shane Conway, Andrew Casey and Conor Boylan.
Kingston feels it is a very tough workload for players like Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Niall O'Leary, Robbie O'Flynn and his nephew Shane to manage.
"It is tough. It’s very tough to balance college and county. It’s extremely tough on the players because they’re being pulled and dragged this time of the year, particularly between inter-county and colleges and it’s really tough for them.
"Somehow they seem to manage it and we’ll see what happens,” Kingston said.