MARY Immaculate College carry the remaining local hopes in the quest to return the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup title to Limerick for a fifth successive year.
The South Circular Road outfit play NUI Galway this Thursday (2.30) in Cusack Park in Ennis with a Saturday March 23 final spot up for grabs against UCC in Waterford IT GAA grounds.
Mary Immaculate reached the last four of the Third Level Senior Hurling Championship with an impressive quarter final win over Cork IT last Thursday.
Champions in 2016 and 2017, Mary I beat Maynooth and DIT to reach the knockout stages.
Thomas Grimes (Na Piarsaigh) and Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell) will be in the Mary Immaculate line-up with Adare’s Sean Hogan among the substitutes.
Managed by Jamie Wall, Mary Immaculate College can call upon a number of inter-county stars – Clare’s Colin Guilfoyle and Gary Cooney, Cork’s Luke Meade, Galway’s Thomas Monaghan, Offaly’s Eoghan Cahill and Tipperary’s Colin English.
2018 All-Ireland U-21 winning captain English has been absent in recent games due to a broken finger while another ruled out by injury is fellow Tipperary man Ray McCormack.
This Thursday, Mary Immaculate face an NUI Galway side that have already beaten champions UL and LIT.
NUIG can call upon Galway inter-county trio Conor Whelan, Sean Loftus and Brian Concannon. The Jeff Lynskey managed Galway are built on a solid foundation of the free-taking of Evan Niland.
The semi final opponents met in the group stages last Spring with the Limerick side edging to victory; 1-20 to 2-16.
This Tuesday, 38-time champions UCC reached a first final since 2013 with an extra time 2-17 to 0-22 win over DCU.
Limerick and Kilmallock defender Paddy O’Loughlin was in the UCC line-up. DCU, managed by Foynes native Eoin Roche had South Liberties Brian Ryan in their ranks and he was introduced late in the game.
UCC have a host of Cork stars in their ranks – Darragh Fitzgibbon, Shane Kingston, Chris O’Leary, Robbie O’Flynn and Mark Coleman. Their top scorer and free-taker is Kerry’s Shane Conway.
Mary Immaculate College will be attempting to ensure a repeat of the 2013 final against the Cork side this Thursday in Ennis against NUIG.
Today’s game will be streamed live on www.Electricireland.ie/HEC and www.Gaa.ie/GAANow