collingwood fever sets in

23 January 2018

Six Irish university sides will battle it out this Wednesday in three opening round fixtures of the new look Rustlers Irish Universities Collingwood Cup.

The winners will then join the five other sides who have received first round byes in the quarter finals for the three day tournament hosted by Queens University from February 5-7 in Belfast.

Both of last season's beaten semi finalists are in first round action on Wednesday. University of Limerick will entertain Maynooth University and DCU travel to meet NUI Galway.

The remaining first round fixture will see Trinity College Dublin have home advantage against near neighbours Royal College of Surgeons.

Dangan or Mervue United FC Astro (2.0)
(Note Further pitch inspection Wednesday AM)

The Westerners haven't experienced a happy season up to this and failed to record any wins in their league campaign with only a 1-1 home draw against Trinity College Dublin to their credit.

The poor form saw them finish bottom of the Premier North and facing of a relegation play off game next month against Athlone IT in a bid to hold on to the top flight status they only achieved with promotion from Division One last season.

The Collingwood Cup now gives manager John (Jumbo) Brennan's side the chance to redeem themselves.

'The Collingwood Cup has a huge tradition in NUI Galway and it's vital that we get past DCU and make it to the last eight in Queens' said Brennan.

' I expect to be at full strength apart from the injured Conor Melody and our other Galway United lads Maurice Nugent, Gary Kinneen and Conor Barry are all available to give us a boost' he added.

It's an important period too for DCU head coach Declan Roche who is facing into two crucial games on successive weeks that will possibly make or break the season.

After travelling to Galway this Wednesday the Glasnevin side have a home Premier League quarter final tie against University of Limerick the following week but Roche's first priority is to get the win in Galway and continue keep their bid for a first ever Collingwood Cup win alive.

'DCU have never won the Collingwood Cup and after several disappointments in semi finals including last year's narrow defeat by the eventual winners UCC we would like to think that this could be our year.

The new format in the cup this year has unfortunately given us a first round game against NUI Galway but we knew about this game since the draw in September so myself and coach Johnny McDonnell will have the players totally focused on going to Galway to win the game. We have already beaten them 7-0 in an earlier league game at our place but the cup is a totally different matter altogether' said Roche.

UL All Weather Cappaville (2.0)

Jamie Flynn is delighted at the way his first season in charge of the University of Limerick senior side has gone so far and is relishing the chance to bid for their first ever Collingwood Cup win.

Limerick under previous manager Ian Sullivan were unlucky in the past two season's losing out in the 2016 final to a late UCD winner at The Mardyke and last year the Belfield hodoo struck again when UCD edged them out in extra time with a 2-1 semi final win.

'I expect to be at full strength with our more experienced players William Fitzgerald, Alan Murphy, Ian Fletcher and Jack Lynch all available plus the under 19's lads. Our league form was decent three wins and two defeats to give us a quarter final place and the last meeting with Maynooth came in last year's Collingwood Cup when we beat them 2-1 to reach the semi final before losing to UCD in extra time' said Flynn.

Maynooth have also reached the Premier League quarter finals with a visit to UCC coming up next week and they are facing a daunting task in Limerick with manager Garrett Dodrill anxious to have a full strength squad available for this crucial fixture.

'I'm hoping to have everyone available but unfortunately with the League of Ireland clubs back in pre season training and playing friendly games the picture regarding our players attached to senior clubs isn't clear yet ' said Dodrill.

'This is a crucial period for Maynooth with cup and league games all coming up and like UL we won't want to miss out on taking part in the Collingwood week in Belfast so the situation we find ourselves in is not ideal but we'll get on with it' added Dodrill.

Clontarf Road Astro (2.0)

Premier League Trinity College will go into this cup tie as firm favourites against a Royal College of Surgeons side who operate in Division Four.

While Trinity managed to hold on to their top level status by gaining a precious point with a 1-1 draw at NUI Galway in their final fixture to keep them out of the relegation zone the league campaign proved to be a struggle for the Surgeons.

The only joy they had was a 1-1 draw with the DCU 'D' side but it still left them bottom of their five team group.

Robbie Gaul Trinity's most experienced player will be setting out on his seventh Collingwood Cup campaign after representing DCU on five previous occasions and then last year Trinity where he is doing a PhD.

'This will be my seventh attempt and possible my last to finally pick up a Collingwood Cup winners medal. I'm looking forward to the game and we know all about the dangers of going into a cup tie as hot favourites so we won't be taking anything for granted against the Surgeons' said Gaul.

Surgeons league form will be put to one side for this game as manager Brian O'Sullivan endeavours to cause what would be the shock of the round.

'The league proved difficult for us and dealing with lectures and hospital placements it proved difficult to field our strongest possible side but I'm pleased with the response in the build up to the Trinity game and who knows anything can happen in a cup tie' explained O'Sullivan.

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