Aaron Gillane at a Fitzgibbon Cup launch event
MARY Immaculate College meet UCC this Saturday in the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup final.
Waterford IT GAA grounds hosts the final, which is a repeat of the 2013 final. Throw-in at 2.30.
Six years ago Mary Immaculate were appearing in their first final and wing back was Jamie Wall.
Fast forward to 2019 and Wall is team manager and Mary Immaculate are bidding for a third Higher Educational Senior Hurling Championship title in five years.
Champions in 2016 and 2017, Mary I are bidding to return the prestigious title to Limerick for a fifth successive season.
“Don’t remind me about that,” joked Wall of the 2-17 to 2-12 defeat.
“It is a repeat, but that’s of very little relevance. It’s a totally new occasion and it certainly won’t be about my quest for revenge. It’s about a new group of Mary I guys trying to make their own little bit of history and the UCC boys will be the exact same,” said the Cork native.
Mary Immaculate have beaten Dublin IT, Maynooth, Cork IT and NUI Galway to reach the final. Managed by Wall with Cormac McGrath and Denis Ferncombe, the Limerick side can call upon a host of top inter-county hurlers.
Aaron Gillane (Patrickswell), Thomas Grimes (Na Piarsaigh) and Sean Hogan (Adare) are the Limerick contingent in the panel while Luke Meade (Cork), Thomas Monaghan (Galway) and Gary Cooney and Colin Guilfoyle (Clare) are among their inter-county names.
Now in his third year as manager, Wall spoke in glowing terms about Limerick star Aaron Gillane.
“When you have got one of the best players in the country obviously you try to play him into the game. He is one of the best players in the country and he is one of the best players in the grade. We know we can’t rely on him to do everything for us but in fairness when you do ask a question of him, he answers in the right way,” outlined Wall.
”He is a great leader, a great leader in the dressing room and very popular with all the lads, which is something that isn’t to be understated – a real genuine leader of men. He doesn’t go roaring and balling, but he does what he does on the field and when you need him,” said the Mary I manager.
Wall added: “When the game is in the melting pot, he puts the hand up and wins a puckout or gets a scores. He reminds me of his own club-mate Cian (Lynch) two year ago when we were in finals and when we needed a big win he invariably he stick up the hand and win a ball or a free”.
Over the last decade, Mary Immaculate College has evolved into a hurling stronghold, despite their small male student population.
“Every hurler in Mary I knows eachother and not just these guys but the Freshers, the intermediates and this year we had an inaugural junior team, who were a bit more like a social club than hurlers but they are still a massive part of it. They all go out together, they all get the same gear and that’s the nature of the college – there is no elitist attitude, it’s one in all in, in a very positive sense of the word,” said Wall.
“Mary I is a very generational based college, a family based college – my brother is in First Year, Aaron Gillane’s brother is too. It’s families coming in all the time and therefore it’s easy to build a family atmosphere when we have families steeped in the place.”
In Saturday’s final, which will be broadcast live on the TG4 YouTube page, Mary I face a star stubbed UCC – Shane Kingston, Mark Coleman, Chris O’Leary, Shane Conway and Limerick’s own Paddy O’Loughlin.
“They will go with their 15 hurlers and five subs and hope they got enough to beat us and we will be the exact same. It’s a case of whose 15 turns up better on the day,” said Jamie Wall to LeaderSport.