IT’S the last opportunity for MTU Cork Campus in the Sigerson Cup, when they meet Ulster University (Jordanstown) in round 3 at Abbottstown tonight at 7pm.
At stake is a place in the quarter-finals next week, but the Cork students’ prospects took a turn for the worse with the leg injury sustained by joint-captain Damien Gore, when introduced during the McGrath Cup final at the weekend.
The Cork and Kilmacabea forward was the star in MTU’s historic 0-15 to 0-14 win over neighbours UCC in the first round, top-scoring with 0-8, five frees, followed by Newcestown’s David Buckley with 0-4 from play.
Gore was one of the few bright lights in MTU’s next game away to their Kerry Campus rivals, who put on a show in a 4-9 to 0-10 triumph on their own patch.
He accounted for half his side’s tally and Gore was one of the few Cork forwards to trouble the home defence.
His absence from the attack considerably weakens MTU’s scoring threat up top and places an additional onus on Buckley as well as Gavin O’Brien (Kerins O Rahillys), David O’Connor (St Vincent’s) and Conal Kennedy (Clonmel Commercials).
There could be a starting place for Dylan O’Connor (Castletownroche), who impressed when introduced for the last 20 minutes, scoring a couple of fine points from play to help his cause of a place in the first 15 on this occasion.
Apart from the unfortunate Gore, MTU Cork were also represented by Rory Maguire (Castlehaven), John Cooper (Eire Og), Paul Ring (Aghabullogue), Daniel O’Connell (Kanturk) and Buckley in the McGrath Cup loss to Kerry while Cillian O’Donovan (Macroom) also has experience of the pre-season inter-county competition.
Maguire and Cooper form part of a talented half-back line, which is completed by the other joint-captain Brian Hodnett (Carbery Rangers), but it’s the full-back line which came under the intense glare of the spotlight against MTU Kerry.
Full-back Niall Donohue (Firies) had his hands full with Kerry captain Tony Brosnan, who was outstanding on the night and followed that up with 0-3 from frees in the McGrath Cup final.
Donohue, as well as the Aghabullogue pair of Adam Murphy and Ring, can expect another stiff examination of their credentials in trying to curb the threat posed by Derry’s Niall Loughlin.
The full-forward scored Jordanstown’s second goal to add to the opener from Down’s Andrew Gilmore which gave the northern side a 2-4 to 0-5 interval lead against NUIG in their first-round encounter.
The Galway students fought back to lead 1-10 to 2-5 in the second-half before the game was abandoned after 58 minutes following a serious knee to Galway substitute Sean Mulkerrin, who was eventually taken to hospital but only after a long wait for an ambulance.
Sportingly, Jordanstown conceded the match on the basis the Sigerson has such a small window in which it must be completed and knowing, too, they would have a second chance of progressing.
Apart from Gilmore, Ulster University’s links with the Down inter-county set-up is reflected in Tom Close, Finn McElroy and others while Dominic McElhill also has inter-county experience with Antrim.
It’s going to be another big ask for the Cork students, but they’ve been involved in a couple of quality games and could be more battle-hardened than their Ulster rivals.
UCC’s exit at the hands of an impressive UCD side last week gave the Dublin side another opportunity against Letterkenny IT last night, when IT Carlow and Queens Belfast were also trying for a quarter-final spot.
The other round 3 tie this afternoon is between Maynooth University and St Mary’s Belfast while UL, NUIG, MTU Kerry Campus and DCU Dochas Eireann await the quarter-final draw.
It’s also an anxious time for Cork manager Keith Ricken ahead of the opening league game against Roscommon at Dr Hyde Park on Sunday at 2pm.
He’ll be keeping his fingers crossed that all involved come through unscathed from the game as well as Sean Meehan, who played for Mary Immaculate College in their Trench Cup game against Dundalk IT last night.
The Kiskeam defender played against Clare and Waterford in the McGrath Cup, but sat out the final.