Billy Nolan will be one of the main men for WIT as they bid to get their Fitzgibbon Cup campaign off to a winning start at home to Carlow IT tonight at the WIT Arena.
Tonight (Wednesday) Fitzgibbon Cup Round 1 at WIT Arena 7p.m. Waterford I.T. Vs I.T. Carlow
Waterford I. T. open their Fitzgibbon Cup campaign on home soil tomorrow evening when they take on fellow South East University aspirants, I. T. Carlow, in the Carriganore Arena.
In former years the Waterford side would be fancied to advance given their impressive Fitzgibbon pedigree but since their last title in 2014 and their replay defeat to U.L. the following year the Waterford college have not appeared in a final while I. T. Carlow have come to the fore with a H. E. League title and two Fitzgibbon final defeats by U.C.C.
The turnaround in hurling fortunes can be attributed to inroads by Carlow into the W.I.T. supply chain where Kilkenny and Wexford players are concerned since D. J. Carey took charge. The big names in the Carlow line up are Ballyhale and Kilkenny’s Eoin Cody, Wexford’s Cathal Dunbar, Conor Langton of Offaly and Podge Delaney of Laois backed up by a good spread of prominent club stars from the Kilkenny club scene in such as Jason Cleere (Bennettsbridge) and Nial Brassil (James Stephens).
HOME GROWN TALENT
W.I.T. have come to depend a little more on home grown talent and will be looking to such as Billy Nolan, Tom Barron, Ciaran Kirwan, Shane Bennett and Gavin Fives of the current Waterford senior set up as well as former underage county players Alan Kirwan (Mount Sion), Conor Ryan (Roanmore), Mairtin Power (Clonea), Ryan Tierney (Ferrybank and Jack Lyons (Ballyduff Lower).
With two teams from the group advancing to the quarter finals winning their two home games, against Carlow and Maynooth would almost assure advancement for W.I.T. whatever the result of a very difficult away fixture to a very strong D.C.U. side. Carlow, too, will see this as a must win game given that they will face D.C.U. in their only home fixture. Maynooth will be regarded as the minnows in this group and unlikely to cause an upset against any of their three opponents.
PENTY OF DÉISE INTEREST
Waterford defender, Iarlaith Daly, will be one of the plethora of Déise players in Fitzgibbon Cup action this week when he lines out for UCC. Photos: Inpho.
With the full range of first round fixtures taking place tomorrow the big games will be in Group 1, described as the ’Group of Death’ that includes a U.C.C. side awash with intercounty players, including Waterford’s Iarlaith Daly, a very strong N.U.I. Galway side, U.C.D. and Mary I. College Limerick . The big opening round clash here is that which sees title favourites U.C.C. away to a Mary I. side that includes a number of Waterford players in the squad in Cian Wadding (Roanmore), Cormac Power (Ballygunner) P. J. Fanning (Mount Sion) and Oisin O’Gorman (Lismore).
The biggest worry for college teams is that players involved on county panels might suffer injury in pre season cup games and W.I.T. will have some concerns in that regard with Shane Bennett having appeared to go off injured in the closing stages against Clare on Saturday last. Still, there are some great games in prospect in the coming weeks and there could be a few surprises in store as almost always is the case in Fitzgibbon hurling.