Monaghan hopes Mary I will make Fitzgibbon impact again
By Eoghan Tuohey
Having had their three-in-a-row dreams dashed by DCU in last season’s quarter-final, Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, will be hoping to regroup, refocus and continue to punch above their weight as the new campaign begins.
The institution, which serves, largely, as a teacher-training college, has emerged in recent years as top-level side. Hard work on the ground, high standards of management and coaching, and an influx of talented inter-county and high level club players have all contributed to the rebranding of the establishment as a hurling hotbed.
Fourth year BEd student and Craughwell representative, Thomas Monaghan, epitomises the eagerness of this squad to rectify coming up short last year.
“Yeah, it’s very important that we bounce back after UL winning last year,” Monaghan says. “The hurling in Mary I has grown a lot recently, a few years ago they were just competing in the Ryan Cup, but then they started to get a lot of hurlers through and the thing kind of came together under Eamonn Cregan, and Jamie Wall has kind of built onto that base.
“It’s the same management team again, and, in fairness, they’re excellent. They’re good to work with. If you’ve club commitments or whatever it is, they’re not pressurising you to play. If you’re finished with the club you can join back with the college. It’s a flexible arrangement.”
A new rivalry has been constructed as a result of Mary I’s recent progress, seen quite clearly in their ties against fellow Limerick-based side, UL. The university boasts a far larger population, and presumably, pick of players, which perhaps has aided in fanning the flames of competition between the two.
In the last four seasons, both teams have won two titles each, setting up the forthcoming crusade as something of a decider. As is the nature of third level sport, both panels will be changed dramatically, leading to a high degree of uncertainty as to who will present the strongest outfit should they meet each other in the latter stages of the competition.
“We’ve lost a couple alright, we lost Cian Lynch, still have Aaron Gillane alright, we’ve Luke Meade, it’s a strong enough team, we were lucky enough to have a good freshers’ team come through from last year,” Monaghan admits. “It’s no different to the rest of the colleges, panels’ change, that’s just the way it is.
“It’s become part of the culture there now. It just started growing there all of a sudden, and it grew and grew. The more lads that came through from various county set ups, the more competitive the teams were getting, and that kind of came together with a really great crop, when the likes of Ronan Maher, Declan Hannon, Darragh O’Donovan sparked the whole thing, they won one and then won another, which has kickstarted the whole thing and led to the hurling reputation that’s there now.”