19 February 2017
Now in it's 103rd year the annual four day Irish Universities Collingwood Cup tournament hosted for the first time by Maynooth University gets under way on Monday with three first round games.
The holders UCD are not in action until Tuesday when they will face Queens University Belfast in a quarter final tie at Leixlip United FC.
This year the proximity of the tournament to the next Friday's opening fixtures in the SSE Airtricity League has caused concern to some teams as to the availability of players for what can turned out to be four hugely competitive cup games in four days.
While many Colleges and Universities football watchers will favour the Belfield side who have claimed the Collingwood Cup outright on 43 occasions since it was first played for in 1914 their old rivals UCC are a side that will certainly come into contention.
Both of these teams have been in fine league form all season and they are also set to clash in the Colleges and Universities Premier League final for the first time ever on Tuesday week February 27 at Home Farm FC, Whitehall (7.0).
The huge disappointment at loosing out to a late UCD winner in last season's Collingwood Cup final at a rain lashed Mardyke still lingers on for University of Limerick manager Ian Sullivan.
"Do you ever get over something like that, it was a sickening blow for the lads after the huge effort they had put in" recalled Sullivan.
"We were unlucky to have Andy Cowpar, Brian Nolan and Paudie O'Connor all go off injured in the space of 15 minutes after UCD had scored the equaliser in the second half and then to get hit with the late winner, it certainly was tough to take" he continued.
"However we move on and this time hopefully we can go one better and finally claim the elusive first Collingwood Cup win for UL" added Sullivan.
First up for the Limerick side is a quarter final tie on Tuesday afternoon (2.30) against Maynooth. While UCC will also open their bid for another cup win on Tuesday when they take on the winners of to-day's Trinity College Dublin v Ulster University first round tie.
NUI Galway manager John (Jumbo) Brennan reckons that things are really coming together at the right time for his squad ahead of two of the most important weeks of the season.
A 2-0 victory at IT Sligo last week with late goals from Ali Sadasi and Rory Brennan saw Galway qualify for the Division One decider against IT Tallaght next Tuesday with a win there securing promotion to the Premier level.
While this week Brennan will turn his attention to bidding for a first Collingwood Cup success since 1999 with a difficult first round tie on Monday against Noel O'Connor's Mary Immaculate College Limerick on the Maynooth University All Weather (2.30).
Like many managers of teams in the Collinwood Cup Brennan is hoping to have his League of Ireland players available for this four day tournament.
Galway United players Maurice Nugent, Gary Kinneen and Conor Melody are part of the university squad The Athlone Town pair Conor Melody and Chris Reed are also involved and Ian Fletcher now with Longford Town.