Cork IT's hurlers will he hoping for happier scenes when they play in the 2015 Fitzgibbon Cup weekend in Limerick. Presseye/Declan Roughan/INPHO
Hurlers To Watch

5 burning questions to be answered on 2015 Fitzgibbon Cup weekend

Cork IT, Waterford IT, UL and Limerick IT are all in action in the last four tomorrow.

THIRD-LEVEL COLLEGES hurling reaches its culmination this weekend when the four remaining sides chase Fitzgibbon Cup success. The42 poses five questions that will be answered in Limerick.

1. Can Waterford IT make it a repeat success?

WIT were unlikely winners last year having been widely written off, but after extra-time wins in both the quarter and semi-finals they powered to victory against Cork IT in the final.

Retaining titles in any sport is not something that’s easily done but the omens are good for Colm Bonnar’s side . UCC did the double in 2012/2013 while WIT themselves won back-to-back titles twice in their own history, in 2003/2004 and 1999/2000.

Backboned by Waterford trio Pauric Mahony, Austin Gleeson and Jake Dillon, as well as Wexford’s Harry Kehoe and Tipperary’s Liam McGrath, they definitely have the firepower required to win two big games in 24 hours.

Colm Bonner celebrates with the cup Colm Bonner will be hoping to win successive Fitzgibbon Cup titles when the competition comes to a close this weekend. Presseye / Declan Roughan/INPHO Presseye / Declan Roughan/INPHO / Declan Roughan/INPHO

2. Can the University of Limerick remove their underachievers tag?

Considering the vast array of talent that has gone through the college during the last 20 years. it is staggering to think that UL only have two titles to their name.

Brian Lohan’s side were stunned by a Davy Fitzgerald ambush in last year’s quarter-final home loss to LIT and interestingly the man who nearly beat them single-handedly that day, Clare’s Tony Kelly, now dons UL colours.

The fitness of the 2013 Hurler of the Year and that of Banner colleague David McInerney is crucial to their success over the weekend. On paper they should at least make the final with the vast array of talent in the squad. That was said last year too though.

Tony Kelly celebrates scoring UL will be happy to have Tony Kelly in their colours this year and hope that his hamstring injury is sufficiently recovered to best derby rivals LIT on Friday. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

3. Can Davy Fitz wield his magic wand once again for Limerick IT?

Written as 6/1 no-hopers going into last year’s tie with UL, LIT produced a powerful display of guts, courage and no little skill in what Davy Fitz described as an achievement ‘as big as anything I’ve ever done.’

The Banner boss called for the competition to be delayed after their win over IT Carlow on Tuesday citing the packed schedule his side will face.

While there is truth to his stories, UL would be best warned to avoid any complacency slipping into their mindset. Despite a lack of stars in their midst, on home soil in Moylish the maestro could produce another fairytale story.

HE GAA / YouTube

Davy Fitzgerald talks to his team after the game Davy Fitzgerald beams with pride when addressing his LIT side after their shock win against UL in the 2014 Fitzgibbon Cup quarter-final. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

4. Can Cork IT finally break their Fitzgibbon duck and claim title?

When CIT finally beat their Rebel rivals UCC in last year’s semi-final, they must have thought they had finally removed the monkey which has been perched on their back for quite some time.

Beaten in two out of the last three deciders, Pat Mulcahy looks to have assembled a squad which can finally go one step further and claim their first Fitzgibbon Cup with Mark Ellis, Aidan Walsh and John “Bubbles” O’Dwyer to the fore.

To win that elusive crown they will have to avenge last year’s final defeat to WIT while one of the Limerick superpowers would await in the final. One title could open the floodgates for further success but sometimes the first win is always the toughest.

Gary Bennett and John O'Dwyer The performance of John O'Dwyer this weekend will be crucial if CIT are to claim their first Fitzgibbon Cup. Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

5. Is there yet another power shift from Colleges to Institutes of Technology? 

UCC top the roll of honour with a whopping 38 titles, closely followed by UCD with 32 while NUIG are next best with 10 final victories. This is the second year in a row however where three of the four weekend teams are IT’s.

Waterford and Limerick IT dominated the competition from 2003-2008 sharing seven titles between them but through UCC, NUIG and UL the next five were claimed by college outfits.

After WIT’s victory over CIT last year and the ratio of IT’s to college sides in the final four this year, it looks as if there is a shift in the power balance once more in third-level college’s hurling.

Liam McGrath and Bill Cooper Liam McGrath (WIT) and Bill Cooper (CIT) will do battle once again this weekend as the IT's look to break the dominance of university sides in the Fitzgibbon Cup. Presseye / Declan Roughan/INPHO Presseye / Declan Roughan/INPHO / Declan Roughan/INPHO

Davy Fitz gets the better of DJ Carey as Limerick IT knock IT Carlow out of the Fitzgibbon Cup

WIT progress to final four of Fitzgibbon Cup after strong defensive effort

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