I’ve enlisted the help of a parish tipster to call each Fitzgibbon Cup tie which takes place from 24 January. An outright NUI Galway hurling man, seen often in deep thought by the Clubhouse wall or by the stand in his home parish jotting down notes about training. Mysterious to most, yet knows all about you if you hurl for a third-level college.
NUI Galway vs DCU/St Pats:
“If I see another sliotar rebound off that bloody electricity line that goes across the pitch I’ll cut the f***ing thing down myself,” reacts the Tipster, to the word ‘Dangan’. “I don’t care if electricity is out in Newcastle for a month; it might harden ‘em up a bit”. He’s been waiting for an explosive rant for some time. “This crop of hurlers features some of the best that ever graced the college, boy, and I’ve been around a while,” he says.
He also revealed that the first touch of “our boys” is being sharpened and mentions a couple more things he’s observed from watching training but “I could be wrong, that mucky surface in Dangan can be deceiving, it’s only fit for grazing,” he says. “But seriously now, this combo isn’t journeying down for the liquor afterword, although if they do win I’ll buy a round for the team that night”. But, opening up, even he admits he doesn’t see an away win: “I can’t see the Dubs finding a gap through Cleary or Mannion, but expect a dog fight.”
Verdict: NUI Galway by 5+
LIT vs Trinity College Dublin:
“No doubt a lack of respect for LIT will benefit Trinity, they probably think the town hasn’t changed much since Angela’s Ashes.” I’m about to try and change the subject. “Listen,” he says, “I threatened this polo player once up in Foxrock, long story short he insulted me saying hurling was a game for wild boys from the west, he wasn’t laughing when I rode back into Galway on top of his finest horse,” laughing heartily at his own joke.
I get a split second to reply “So you proved him correct?”. “Look, my point is those posh boys are soft, LIT have the names and about time won something for the likes of you and me and stuck it to ‘em,” he admits. “I’m sick of repeating it”, he repeats. And whispering, “rumour has it, Davy Fitz is riding into the sunset at the end of the year so I’d nearly back ‘em outright if I were you, but you didn’t hear it from me”.
Verdict: LIT by 15+
Mary I vs GMIT:
“I can see only one winner here and thanks be to God it’s not that shower inhabiting the far side of the Corrib,” the Tipster argues. It’s clear that time has done little to cool the rivalry, he could probably rant all day but I ask him about the Limerick side.
“Holders Mary I may be down a few bodies from last year but with Cian Lynch back in form it’s hard to imagine anything other than him flicking it over and back, and over and back across GMIT heads, they’ll resemble headless chickens, it’ll be carnage.”
Verdict: Mary I by 10+
UL vs CIT:
“The IT faces an uphill battle in beating the traffic to Limerick, forget the game.” The question’s been ruled out before it’s asked. He heard UL were devastated about the possibility of missing Tony Kelly because of club commitments. “It’s almost like a death in the family. Maybe worse because you don’t know if he’ll play or not, I’ve a few relations down that way and they’re genuinely considering counselling over it.”
Momentarily forgetting Kelly’s absence, he reckons the 2014 champions will win either way and, rubbing his hands in delight, he says “expect Tipperary’s John McGrath to provide a royal welcome for the visitors.”
Verdict: UL by 5+
IT Carlow vs DIT:
“Sure, what hurlers ever came out of Carlow?” he asks. Forgiving his ignorance, I tell him he must’ve misread the paper when IT Carlow won the Fresher’s in 2014. “They’ve been building ever since,” I explain. “Colin Dunford’s become a Waterford regular and you can be sure a few Kilkenny kittens will be waiting to pounce.”
“They might be alright so,” he admits. “Is that Lee Chin still in DIT?” he wonders. “I’m not sure,” I reply. “Does he know himself if he’s a hurler or football player, I tell you if I was over him he’d have no distraction.” I have no doubt. He ponders the idea of Carlow IT being able to hurl. “I might go to that,” he says.
Verdict: IT Carlow by 3+
UCC vs UU:
“Those arrogant Corkonians would nearly request a walkover if the game didn’t suit ‘em,” says the Tipster, followed by a phlegmy spit. “I’ve had my fair share of run-ins over the years.” I can imagine. He fancies another one-sided affair with the Northerners wishing they “stuck to the big ball” but with a crooked smile he says “I hope they take a few mementos for the long journey home, if you catch my drift.”
Verdict: UCC by 15+
UCD vs NUI Maynooth:
The Tipster reckons there’s something fishy about all these easy games handed out to the top teams, “might be something worth looking into,” he considers.
“UCD have a host of starlets,” he goes on to list James Maher, Dj Foran, Tadgh de Burca and a host of other potential county stars. “No doubt they’re willing to kill for the win but I reckon they’ll be walking off without a spot of dried blood on their shirts. You young lads know nothing about the battles of the past” is his concluding remark.
Verdict: UCD by 10+
-By Michael Burke
Image: Limerick Leader