I’ve enlisted the help of a parish tipster to call each game. An outright NUIG 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 3rd level college.
UL vs NUIG:
I tiptoe toward the game; the Tipster has an edge about him that must’ve been chipped during our poor performance last week. His speech, however, clarifies his feelings. ‘The battle will begin when we step off that bus,’ he declares. ‘Hail, rain or snow won’t stop us, we’ll ambush them at the 45 yard line, we’ll strike them before throw in, and we’ll fight them in the sandy goalmouth,’ he roars emotionally, reminiscent of Winston Churchill. ‘And when the white lines have turned grey from the last run in our boots, I’ll know we’ve given it all and that it’ll be our year.’ The Tipsters nearly in tears, I’m nearly in tears. ‘Up UCG,’ he says.
Once the tears are wiped and breath has been inhaled I enquire about the reality we’re facing. ‘A serious task,’ he says, withered. ‘I could talk all day and not listed half their squad, they’ve serious depth.’
‘But last week we hurled without the Mannion’s and UL might think it’s already won, but we’ll wait and see, the joy is in the wait and I’ll tell you pain is when you’re waiting too long,’ smiles the Tipster in a nervous sort of way. ‘I’m hoping for the best.’ We all are.
Verdict: NUIG +1
GMIT vs DIT:
Whenever GMIT lose it’s a win for the Tipster, and even if they’re successful next round it means nothing. ‘They won’t be getting through anyway,’ he says. ‘You’ve a strange way of living with your neighbours,’ I respond, laughing. ‘It’s called being Irish,’ he asserts sharply. ‘The weather will once again have a big bearing on this game, it’ll be tough.’ For these two, it’s been tough at the top, and about to get worse at the bottom. ‘I’m backing the Dubliners,’ he says. ‘Anyone but my neighbours.’
St. Pat’s vs CIT:
‘Pats gave us a scare alright, if they had more composure they could’ve robbed it,’ he admits. ‘And CIT got well beaten too; this won’t be a clash of Titans.’ We talked openly about the two sides and concluded they’ve little chance of getting through, but we’re backing the Dubliners to come out on top. ‘It won’t be easy travelling up to Dublin,’ I mention; ‘The peoples republic vs the actual republic, there’ll be more ego’s broken than ash,’ is my best attempt at humour. ‘Well neither are in the top college in their own city, so we can be sure their self-confidence wouldn’t be the highest,’ he replies. Well, he got me there.
Verdict: St Pats + 2
DCU vs LIT:
I’m quick to remind the Tipster about the one game he did get wrong (being WIT vs DCU) and he hasn’t taken it well. ‘WIT were missing Aussie Gleeson, no wonder DCU bet’em,’ he hisses. ‘Ah but you should’ve known that before you called the game,’ I repeat, mocking him. ‘How was I supposed to know about DCU?’ he shouts. ‘They must’ve had security at training to stamp out spies, must’ve been a proper covert setup if it didn’t reach my ears,’ he says ‘and I hear everything’. I switch to LIT before he bites my own ear off.
‘Sure what else do you want to know, they sent Trinity crying back to the Capital like a bunch of school girls like I predicted, Shane Bennett must’ve looked like a giant among men, poor lads have never seen a proper hurler in all they’re lives’, he says dismissively. ‘But these DCU boys have seen em, and won’t be in any mood to bow down like their fellow jackeens.’ But even after cooling off he still can’t see LIT losing. ‘It’s only a warmup,’ he says, and it’s got me thinking. ‘I bet he has a few quid on them to win outright’ I say to myself, but I say nothing for the moment.
Verdict: LIT +10
TCD vs WIT:
‘I hope Trinity are enjoying their day in the sun, if you could call it that,’ says the Tipster in preview. ‘Because Aussie Gleeson is going to send them straight back down the division, it’ll be so bad their Twitter account won’t even have the words to make the afternoon enjoyable,’ he says with a grin. As the Tipster’s mentioned, Gleeson’s making a return and we agreed the hurler of the year and his teammates will have an easy afternoon; ‘They should make a day out of it,’ he says. ‘Maybe go to the zoo first and then for a nice meal, and finally go out for a nice, relaxing game of hurling – but it won’t always be this easy for WIT,’ he concludes.
Verdict: WIT +10
UCD vs UCC:
‘Now here’s a meeting of the big guns,’ savours the Tipster. Two of the leading all time champions will fight it out and once again the Tipster has a fair idea who’ll do ‘untold damage’ come throw in. ‘Last week, the easy games were had but we’ll see who has the courage to win the dirty ball when it matters,’ he says. ‘Anyone can do it when no one’s watching.’ For UCC, instead of a prediction, it’s just another rant. ‘The Corkonians will travel up with the collar popped and flags raised, wouldn’t surprise me if they took over the GPO while they’re at it. The cheek of ‘em,’ he says in a loud pitch. I reckon his heart must’ve been broken by a girl who ran off with a Cork hurler many moons ago, but it’s still probably too soon to bring that up. ‘DJ Foran will bang two goals in for UCD in as many minutes, you heard it here first,’ he said. ‘Will we bet on it?’ I reply. ‘With everything I own,’ he says.
Verdict: UCD +5
IT Carlow vs Mary I:
‘This is a mouth-watering clash alright,’ he says, thankfully without water coming out. ‘Twas like last week,’ he reveals with a wink. ‘The Kingpins of Mary I won’t like dampening their gelled hair and flashy socks in Carlow of all places, the townsfolk could react by throwing bricks at the window of their bus.’ ‘Fitzgibbon hurling isn’t like an Old Firm derby,’ I explain, sighing. ‘You’re right, all our fighting was done on the field, not like the cowards in the stands these days.’ Always able to wander from the subject on hand, the Tipster’s also able to always end up revelling in his war-like playing days. Eventually he gave his verdict. ‘I think Cian Lynch and Galvin will produce a show alright but Carlow are at home and have nothing to lose, they’ll be waiting in the long grass with…’ I stop him there. Can Carlow IT do it? ‘They’ll need a few snipers,’ he says, laughing.
Verdict: I.T Carlow +1