Two days of action, which will be played over February 24-25, will see the cream of the crop from our universities and third level institutions descend upon the campus of NUI Galway in search of prestigious honours.
UCC, the defending champions, are back to try and successfully defend their crown but they face a difficult task. With four teams qualifying for the Friday’s semi-finals the Cork outfit have been paired with NUI Maynooth, while on the other side of the draw 2010 winners DCU will clash with UUJ.
All in all an exciting two days of third-level GAA action awaits and here we preview the four teams that have qualified for the Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup weekend.
How have they got there? As the defending champions UCC were always expected to qualify for the weekend. They began their campaign with a routine victory over GMIT and followed that up with a narrow win over Sligo IT to qualify for the last four.
Who do they play? UCC meet an NUI Maynooth side that has been knocking on the Sigerson door quite heavily over the last number of years and who will be confident of causing an upset.
Star Man*: Stylish centre-forward Mark Collins has become a lynchpin of the UCC attack in recent seasons and having featured prominently in Cork’s NFL campaign this year looks set to be one to watch in 2012.
How have they got there? DCU began their campaign with a hard-earned victory at home to Cork IT and they followed that up with a convincing win over their city rivals DIT.
Who do they play? DCU have been paired up with UUJ in the semi-finals and this meeting looks set to be an enthralling encounter as both sides will fancy their chances.
Star Man*: Blessed with attacking talent such as Dublin’s Paul Flynn and Eoghan O’Gara, DCU have an attack that will worry most defences. However, at the back it is Westmeath’s Kieran Gavin that has caught the eye and he will be crucial in thwarting a quality UUJ offence.
How have they got there? Maynooth have had to overcome two stiff challenges already this season. Wins away to Queens and at home to UCD don’t happen by accident and they will fancy their chances of causing another upset.
Who do they play? NUIM will have to overcome the defending champions UCC if they want to make it to the Sigerson decider.
Star Man*: Mickey Newman has grabbed the headlines so far for Maynooth and if they are to shock UCC they will need the Meath man firing on all cylinders.
How have they got there? UUJ survived a scare in the competition’s opening round against UL and then dug deep to carve out another win over hosts NUIG to confirm their place at the weekend.
Who do they play? The Belfast outfit have been paired with the 2010 champions DCU and although they will be underdogs there is no doubt they will fancy their chances of pulling off a shock
Star Man*: Tyrone’s Mattie Donnelly will be expected to provide the scores for UUJ once again after chipping in with five points in their quarter-final victory over NUI Galway.
Irish Daily Mail Trench Cup Preview
In the Semi Finals of the Irish Daily Mail Trench Cup, the three home Quarter-Final winners are joined by the British representatives in the last four as the second tier competition hots up.
Liverpool Hope travel across the Irish Sea in hope of adding to their first ever British Universities Division One title, which they won after defeating John Moore’s University Liverpool in the final at Hough End on Sunday 12th February. They will play a Limerick IT side who have racked up some big scores in their impressive victories over University of Ulster, Coleraine and League Finalists IT Blanchardstown so far. This is the Second Trench Semi Final and will be played at NUIG Sportsgrounds on Friday afternoon @ 2pm.
In the 12noon throw in, Waterford IT will take on a Trinity College team who are not short on silverware themselves this season, having gone unbeaten during Semester One, on the way to claiming HE Div 2 League honours. They have made the Semi Final following a six point quarter final victory over a fancied St. Patricks College side. Waterford IT, meanwhile enjoyed a six point win over Letterkenny Institute of Technology at the same stage.
The winners of both ties will progress to Saturdays decider (Pearse Stadium, 12.45pm), where the final will serve as a curtain raiser to the Irish Daily Mail Sigerson Cup Final.
Irish Daily Mail Corn na Mac Léinn Preview
In the third tier competition, the Semi-Finals will also be played on Friday afternoonwith an 11am start on Saturday morning in NUIG Sportsgrounds.
In the first Semi-Final, the teachers will clash, as Mater Dei College will play Marino Institute of Education. Mater Dei have reached the finals weekend courtesy of two comfortable wins over the University of Ulster at Magee and LIT-Tipperary, while Marino overcame GMIT Letterfrack at the Quarter Final stage.
In the second Semi-Final, a third teaching college are in action in this competition as Froebel College of Education take on the Royal College of Surgeons at 3pm on Friday afternoon. Froebel defeated The Law School at the Quarter Final Stage to reach the weekend, while RCSI defeated the Cadets last time out.
With all teams evenly matched, this competition is a hard one to call, but if I was a betting man, I would say that a squad of educators may land the Corn na Mac Léinn on Saturday morning next!
Article reproduced courtesy of he.gaa.ie. Click here for this weekend's full programme of fixtures in the Irish Daily Mail He GAA Football Championships.