Keen local interest in Fitzgibbon Cup
With two of the four Fitzgibbon Cup semi-finalists featuring starters from Wexford, there is the strong likelihood that the county will have a keen direct interest in the third level colleges hurling decider which is fixed for Mallow on Saturday, February 24, at 3 p.m.
In a change from tradition, the penultimate round games won't be played on the day before. Instead, they are both down for decision tonight (Tuesday), with I.T. Carlow facing favourites U.L. at the W.I.T. sports campus in Carriganore at 7 p.m., while D.C.U. will meet D.I.T. in a Dublin venue at the same time.
Four Wexford lads have been featuring regularly with D.J. Carey's I.T. Carlow, who are intent on going one better than last year when they lost the final to Mary Immaculate from Limerick.
Oylegate-Glenbrien clubmates Shane Reck and Seamus Casey are key members of the squad, along with Michael Redmond from Rathnure and Ballygarrett's inter-county forward Cathal Dunbar.
The D.C.U. side all set for the Dublin derby is powered by St. Martin's pair Aaron Maddock and Joe O'Connor, along with the Foleys from Crossabeg-Ballymurn, Pádraig and Oisín, and Blackwater defender Darren Byrne.
The Wexford representation on the rival D.I.T. squad is supplied by substitute goalkeeper Eddie Mernagh from Oylegate-Glenbrien.
Two of the already departed Fitzgibbon contestants also boasted strong Slaneyside involvement.
U.C.D. featured Naomh Eanna pair Darragh Hughes and Gary Molloy along with Rathnure duo Brian Quigley and Denis Maher plus Darren Codd of St. Martin's.
And W.I.T. included Mark Fanning (Glynn-Barntown), John Doyle (St. Patrick's), Shane Lawlor (Rathnure), and the unfortunate Connal Flood (Cloughbawn) whose year was brought to a premature end with a serious knee injury sustained while on colleges duty.
The Ryan Cup final will be the curtain-raiser to the Fitzgibbon decider on Saturday week, and in that instance the semis will be played on the same weekend.
Maynooth University have qualified after dropping down from the Fitzgibbon this year, and their half-back line will feature Ross Donohoe of Buffers Alley who is joined in that area of the field by Kilkenny star Pádraig Walsh and Brian Hogan (Tipperary) whose father, Ken, the ex-goalkeeper, is team manager.
Stephen Stafford of Taghmon-Camross is one of the dependable corner-backs, while John Furlong (Buffers Alley) is also on the panel.
Maynooth and G.M.I.T. have qualified from their group, and a play-off will have whittled down three teams to two on the other side of the draw by Thursday, with U.U.J., Athlone I.T. and I.T. Tralee currently in contention.