There are not many colleges who can claim to have the best hurler in the country at their prime, but from my point of view, that is exactly what NUI Galway can claim with Cian Lynch named on their Fitzgibbon cup squad. Lynch, who is currently studying Professional Master of Education has won just about everything you can including two Fitzgibbon cups from his time at Mary Immaculate College as well as two hurlers of the year, three All-Irelands and more awards than can be counted.
It is not just Lynch who can be called a standout figure in this NUI Galway side the likes of Evan Niland, Brian Concannon and Conor Caufield have all featured for Galway at senior level. Galway minor manager Jeff Lynskey also serving as manager shows that this team has plenty of experience of big occasions which always serves teams well in competitions like the Fitzgibbon.
Niland, who scored 11 points in the league winning victory over DCU could be key for NUI Galway in the Fitzgibbon with his free scoring ability which made him heir to Joe Canning at county level being something that few other players in the game possess.
The Fitzgibbon cup winners over the last decade have nearly all come out of Limerick or Cork and while it has been 12 years since NUI Galway have won the competition, the ‘X-Factor’ of the likes of Niland and Lynch could bring the cup to Galway for the first time in a long time.
They have already showed they can do it in the league, but the Fitzgibbon is a different story and there are no guarantees in hurling, but if I were a betting man I would have to believe in NUI Galway’s chances.
Another factor that has be accounted for and that is fatigue. With all of NUI Galway’s best players featuring heavily for their respective county teams as well as their club side there is huge demand put on these players. It is a problem that has grown in recent years with former NUI Galway Sigerson cup player Kieran Molloy playing two games on the same day, and it is not too far off what some of these Fitzgibbon players are doing.
This is a problem in my eyes, and it needs to be solved sooner rather than later with injuries like the one sustained by Sean Mulkerrins for NUI Galway in the Sigerson cup bound to happen, but until it is all we can do is hope for the best and cheer our team on to glory.