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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019

Four GAA greats are bidding to win the Fitzgibbon Cup as managers this weekend

Davy, Lohan, Cregan and English are ready for battle at Cork IT.

Brian Lohan and Davy Fitzgerald in action for Clare against Cork's Joe Deane.
Brian Lohan and Davy Fitzgerald in action for Clare against Cork's Joe Deane.

KILKENNY LEGEND DJ Carey recently remarked upon the high-profile calibre of manager currently operating at Fitzgibbon Cup level.

And this weekend at Cork IT is no exception, with four intercounty legends guiding the fortunes of UL, UCD, LIT and Mary Immaculate College.

Between them, the decorated quartet managed to amass seven All-Ireland senior hurling medals between them as players, with Davy Fitzgerald, Nicky English and Eamon Cregan repeating the feat as managers of Clare, Tipperary and Offaly respectively.

The42 has decided to profile each of the competing coaches in what is truly is a Fitzgibbon weekend to savour with the action on the pitch well complemented by the personalities on the sideline.

Davy Fitzgerald (Limerick IT)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Davy Fitz simply loves the Fitzgibbon Cup, having presided over a breakthrough victory for Limerick IT back in 2005.

Fitzy repeated the trick with LIT two years later but his greatest managerial achievement to date was Clare’s senior All-Ireland success in 2013.

Fitzgerald first spotted the potential of former Tipperary star Conor O’Mahony at centre back, the position the Newport man made his own at intercounty level.

O’Mahony’s good friend Shane McGrath became another Premier County regular while Eoin Kelly and Joe Canning are just of other countless big names who also wore the green shirt of LIT.

Davy Fitzgerald and Kieran Murphy 10/3/2007 Davy Fitzgerald celebrates LIT's 2007 Fitzgibbon Cup win with Kieran 'Fraggy' Murphy Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Fitzy loves Limerick derbies in the Fitzgibbon Cup and his touchline battle with Eamonn Cregan in the semi-final with Mary Immaculate College will be fascinating.

LIT lost to holders UL at this stage of the competition, and on home soil, last year and Fitzgerald will want his charges to go at least one step further.

Fitzgerald hailed LIT’s recent victory over UCC as one of his finest achievements as a manager but masterminding a third Fitzgibbon Cup success would rank right up there with anything he’s done with the Bainisteoir bib on his back.

Brian Lohan (University of Limerick)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Lohan masterminded UL’s victory in last year’s competition and has his sights firmly set on back-to-back titles.

A UL-LIT final would be something to really savour, particularly as Lohan was quite vocal in his belief that there should have been a root-and-branch review of Clare’s recent progress, with former teammate Davy Fitzgerald currently in charge of the Banner County.

As a player, and donning that trademark red helmet, Lohan was renowned as one of the most fearless players in the game and he captured All-Ireland senior medals at full-back in 1995 and 1997.

Willie Ryan and John McGrath John McGrath is a key member of the UL Fitzgibbon Cup side. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Lohan, a four-time Allstar, boasts a huge pedigree in the Fitzgibbon Cup and he was captain of the victorious UL team in 1994, winning the Player of the Tournament award to boot.

Lohan won’t fear anybody in the last four and he’ll pit his wits against former Tipperary nemesis Nicky English when UL go head-to-head with UCD in the semi-finals.

Nicky English (University College Dublin)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

UCD’s Sigerson Cup footballers ended a 20-year wait for glory last weekend and Tipperary legend Nicky English is hoping to end the college’s Fitzgibbon Cup famine.

UCD haven’t won the Fitzgibbon Cup since 2001 but with English at the helm, anything is possible.

A two-time All-Ireland senior hurling medallist in the blue and gold, English joined an elite band of men to also win the Liam MacCarthy Cup as manager, when Tipp were successful back in 2001.

Over the past decade, he’s been regularly linked with a return to the Tipperary hotseat but has opted instead to guide the fortunes of UCD in recent years.

For Dublin-based English, it’s a good fit and this competition has been good to him over the years.

In the colours of UCC, English won five successive Fitzgibbon Cups as a player from 1981-1985.

Eamonn Cregan (Mary Immaculate College)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Cregan is an iconic figure in Limerick, having played on the last team to win the Liam MacCarthy Cup for the county, back in 1973.

He’s been guiding the fortunes of Mary Immaculate College at Fitzgibbon Cup level in recent times and guided them to a very first final appearance in 2013.

Cregan hinted at the time that Mary I’s big chance may have come a little too early three years ago but a star-studded team has a big chance at Cork IT.

An outspoken figure, Cregan isn’t happy that elite players are put through such a punishing schedule at this time of year but was still unhappy that a number of his players were hauled off at half-time in the massive quarter-final victory over GMIT.

Iomar Creavan and Declan Hannon Declan Hannon is a key figure in the Mary I team hoping to claim Fitzgibbon Cup glory Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Cregan’s selectors appeared to have made those calls as some of Mary I’s biggest hitters, namely Colm Galvin, Ronan Maher, Cian Lynch and Declan Hannon, were called ashore at the break.

We can probably expect that Cregan will have the final say when it comes to team selection and in-game changes over the course of finals weekend but Mary I face a difficult path to the final, with hard-working Limerick IT providing the semi-final opposition in an eagerly-anticipated local derby.

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