Wall expects UCC and Mary I to be an electric Fitzgibbon Cup showdown

Wall expects UCC and Mary I to be an electric Fitzgibbon Cup showdown
UCC's Eoghan Murphy and Shane Conway tackle Chris Crummey of DCU. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

UCC against Mary Immaculate has the makings of a cracking Fitzgibbon final.

Mary I were back-to-back Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup winners in 2016-17, and the decider next week will be a repeat of the 2013 showdown when the Skull and Crossbones were last victorious.

The College saw off DCU in a dramatic semi-final on Tuesday when Chris O'Leary converted a penalty in stoppage time of extra time of a gripper, where Shane Kingston also contributed hugely with 1-5. 

Chris O'Leary buries a penalty.
Chris O'Leary buries a penalty.

Mary I got past NUIG in the other semi, with Limerick ace Aaron Gillane leading the line. Cork seniors Darren Browne and Luke Meade are vital cogs in this Mary I side, with Colin O'Brien, an U17 All-Ireland winner in 2017, up front.

There's another Leeside connection in coach Jamie Wall, who played in the 2013 outfit beaten by UCC.

"It's going to be a shoot-out and a battle, a shoot-out by virtue of the sheer quality of players on both sides. There will be a good battle for 30 or 40 minutes and hopefully a game will break out after that then."

Shane Kingston running at the DCU defence in the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup.
Shane Kingston running at the DCU defence in the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup.

The Kilbrittain native believes the intensity of the clash with NUIG will stand to his charges.

"It was a hard-fought win. We'd seen them twice and they well drilled in tackling hard but fairly. They tackled so well they won frees close to our goal.

"Still, there's an element of Rocky Balboa about taking the hits and keeping going, being brave enough to keep carrying the ball out and to keep trying to use it the right way. When you make a mistake you just have to be brave enough to try it again."

Cork native Colin O'Brien of Mary I takes on Kevin Galvin and Darragh Fanning of Cork IT. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cork native Colin O'Brien of Mary I takes on Kevin Galvin and Darragh Fanning of Cork IT. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

A feature of Mary I's performance was their clever distribution, spearheaded by Luke Meade, who scored a sizzling goal after a couple of shimmies in the previous round against CIT.

"We try to use the ball and play smart hurling. We've Tommy (Monaghan) and Luke (Meade) in midfield and they've been in each other's pockets for four years, they're in the same class in Mary I, a small group. We interchange them all the time because they just work well together.

"In terms of tactics there's only so much you can do in the college because you don't get an awful lot of time with them, so you have to set them up in principles of play that suit them and they're used to with their counties. Galway, Cork, Limerick, Clare... they're all teams that try and use the ball smart. It plays to their strengths. 

"We can't take too much credit. We just roll with the punches to use another bad Rocky reference. We got a real test and we were able to respond to it which is a nice place to be before a final."

Wall believes WIT, where UCC defeated DCU, would be ideal for the decider.

"WIT is a super Fitzgibbon venue with two small stands but it's also a super field. We played there in the league against WIT in the depths of November and it was in great nick. There won't be any excuse on either side. As Brian Cody always says, the best team will win."

Aaron Gillane celebrates with manager Jamie Wall following the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Aaron Gillane celebrates with manager Jamie Wall following the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup semi-final. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

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