GALWAY GAA – PREVIEW: NUIG vs MARY I (Thursday, 2pm)


It’s a massive day for NUI Galway’s hurlers today (Thursday) as they face Mary Immaculate, Limerick in their final group game in the Fitzgibbon Cup (2pm, Mary I Grounds). 

The Tribesmen need a result to advance to the quarter-finals against Jamie Wall’s three-in-a-row chasing defending champions and will hope for better fortune than their meeting in 2017.

Goals for Aaron Gillane (2), Tadhg Gallagher and Luke Meade ended NUIG’s hopes in the knock out stages as the Limerick college ran out 4-18 to 1-16 winners and will start today’s contest ast 4/7 favourites.

NUIG were without Ahascragh/Fohenagh pair Padraic and Cathal Mannion who were involved in their club’s All-Ireland intermediate final but both will be available as will fellow Galway seniors Conor Whelan, Sean Loftus and recent debutant Brian Concannon who scored a goal against Antrim.

They began with a 2-22 to 0-13 hammering of Trinity College before going down 2-16 to 1-16 against last year’s runners-up IT Carlow.  Their opponents also beat the Dublin team but fell to DJ Carey’s men.  However, a draw would see NUIG advance on scoring difference.

NUIG did lead IT Carlow 1-9 to 0-6 approaching half-time thanks to Darragh Burke’s scoring and John Fox’s goal before being overturned.  This contest will be equally difficult and NUIG will need to be on top form to succeed.

Limerick player Cian Lynch is one of Mary I’s star players along with Thomas Grimes and Eoghan McNamara.  Gillane and Galway’s Thomas Monaghan missed their meeting with Trinity College but they can also rely on goal scorers Tim O’Mahony, Brian and Michael Corry.

The Galway college haven’t won the Fitzgibbon Cup since their 10th title in 2010 but their form has been better this season.  They will run their opponents very close and with the new-found confidence in Galway hurling, that could inspire them to a shock victory.

They are 13/8 outsiders (Draw 8/1) and playing away from home increases the difficulty.  But a strong squad won’t be far away from a major result.

NUIG (probable): Shane Hennessy; Barry Fitzpatrick, Conor Cosgrove, Ciaran O’Connor; Sean Loftus, Conor Ryan, Padraic Mannion; Brian Concannon, Shane Fletcher; Cathal Mannion, Darragh Burke, Conor Whelan; John Fox, Michael Lynch, Aiden Helebert.