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Dublin: 3°C Monday 12 April 2021
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6 players to watch in tonight's Fitzgibbon Cup final

The final between UCC and IT Carlow takes place in the DCU Sportsgrounds at 7.30pm.

1. Mark Coleman (UCC & Cork)

mark-coleman-celerbates Mark Coleman celebrates after the semi-final. Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

The hero of the hour in UCC’s one-point semi-final win over DCU. Coleman cut over a sideline from just inside the 45 into the breeze in the dying minutes to seal their passage into the final. 

The 22-year-old, who helped the Cork college lift the Fitzgibbon Cup last year, forms a talented half-back line alongside fellow Rebel Niall O’Leary and Limerick’s Paddy O’Loughlin.

Coleman is one of the most experienced inter-county stars on show, having already won two All-Stars, Young Hurler of the Year and a pair of Munsters senior titles in his young career. 

2. Cathal Dunbar (IT Carlow & Wexford) 

cathal-dunbar-with-david-prendergast Cathal Dunbar runs at the Mary I defence in the semi-final. Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

A noted goalscorer throughout his career to date, the two green flags Dunbar raised in the semi-final against Mary I surprised nobody.

Dunbar made 11 appearances across league and championship for Wexford in 2019, contributing 1-12 for Davy Fitzgerald’s side. 

He generally plays at centre-forward for DJ Carey’s IT Carlow team and is major a threat coming from deep. 

3. Shane Conway (UCC & Kerry)

shane-conway-with-damien-reck Shane Conway tackles Damien Reck of DCU. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Conway is one of the most talented young forwards in Munster and has been shooting the lights out for Kerry for some time.  Of the players likely to feature today, Conway is the only one not playing Division 1 hurling this spring. 

He posted six points in last year’s decider win over Mary I, scoring 0-38 altogether in the 2019 competition.

Conway continues to stand-out in an attack that also contains sharpshooters Shane Kingston and Mark Kehoe.

4. Enda Rowland (IT Carlow & Laois)

enda-rowland Laois goalkeeper Enda Rowland takes a puck-out during the Walsh Cup. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Laois man was deservedly an All-Star nominee in 2019 after a stunning season for Eddie Brennan’s side. 

The owner of a booming puck, Rowland smashed over two frees from way out the field against Mary I and managed to keep a clean sheet.

He captained IT Carlow on their last trip to the final in 2017 and will be hoping to go one better tonight and lift the prize.

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5. Robert Downey (UCC & Cork)

robert-downey UCC and Cork rising star Robert Downey. Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

He’s only 20, but already Downey is being talked up as Cork’s long-term answer to the full-back position.

Following an impressive debut campaign in 2019, the Glen Rovers man appears ready to nail down a position in Kieran Kingston’s defence after a couple of strong showings in the Allianz Hurling League.

The towering defender captained Cork on their run to the Munster U20 final last summer where they lost to Tipperary. He’s a clubmate of Patrick Horgan and Stephen McDonnell, but the Arts student grew up admiring JJ Delaney from afar. He’ll be a key figure in the UCC defence tonight.

6. Liam Blanchfield (IT Carlow & Kilkenny)

darren-browne-with-liam-blanchfield Liam Blanchfield scored a goal in the semi-final for DJ Carey's side. Source: Tom O'Hanlon/INPHO

Downey’s direct opponent will most likely be Blanchfield, the Bennettsbridge man who scored IT Carlow’s third goal in the semi-final.

The 23-year-old has been on the scene for a while, having made his debut with the Cats four years ago. He started the 2016 All-Ireland final against Tipperary, but has found game-time under Brian Cody difficult to come by in recent seasons.

Cody was a spectator at the semi-finals and is expected to be in the crowd for this game, handing Blanchfield the perfect opportunity to show his worth to his county boss.

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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