Hosts WIT are aiming for an unprecedented four in a row, UCC having been beaten in the last two finals will be hoping that this year is finally their year. UCD will want to reach the final after being beaten in the semi-final for four consecutive years and UL will be determined to build on their excellent league campaign with an appearance in Sunday’s final.
UCC v UL
WIT Sports Campus, 2pm
In the first semi final of the day UCC will battle it out with close neighbours UL. UL beat both UCC and WIT in the league stages early in the year and they will be hoping to build on this with another strong performance on Saturday.
Having lost the previous two Ashbourne Cup finals UCC will be determined to get back to the final again this year. Despite having lost nine inter-county players from last year’s starting line up, they still managed to top their group, after using their league campaign to blood new players and give them an opportunity to stake their claim for a place on the team.
UCC will have been pleased with their performances in the group stages, defeating UCD and UUJ to finish top of the group. Captain of the side is young Cork star Denise Cronin and her leadership and direct running skills will be vital against UL. Katrina Mackey and Joanne Casey have been in flying form for the Cork college and they are ably assisted by former WIT player Marie O’Neill who has joined UCC this year.
Roisin De Faoite is solid at centre back flanked by Eimear Mulhall and Patricia Buttimer as half backs. Kilkenny’s Nicola Butler is a fine full back and will be up to the task of marking any of the full forwards in the competition.
In the Ashbourne group stages UL were drawn in a group with WIT and NUIG. UL put up a strong performance in their opening match against WIT and will have been disappointed to lose but recovered well from this set back to produce a commanding display over NUIG and finish group runners up. Wexford sisters Linda and Lisa Bolger are pivotal to the Limerick colleges attack, former UCC player and Cork senior Julia White will need to be watched as will Roisin Byrne who was outstanding for UL in their final group game.
Susan Vaughan is the captain of the side and the inspirational centre back will have to be at her best against the industrious Marie O’Neill, who scored 1-06 for UCC against UUJ
The winning and losing of this game will be in the defence of each team. The UCC half forward line is the Cork sides strongest line while the UL full forward line is extremely dangerous and whichever defence can cope with the attacking threat will be victorious on the day.
WIT v UCD
WIT Sports Campus, 2.30pm
WIT have been the outstanding third level side in this past five years and have not been beaten since UCD overcame them in the Ashbourne Cup final in 2008, under the management of Helena Jacob, Ursula Jacob, Tommy Murphy and GAA Development Officer Conor Phelan.
They have won the three in a row and are now aiming for an unprecedented fourth title in as many years. Despite having lost former Ashbourne player of the tournament Stacey Redmond and 2011 captain Ann Dalton, WIT can still boast some of the finest senior intercounty players including this year’s captain Katie Power, 2010 and 2011 All Star Katrina Parrock, former young player of the year Denise Gaule and Waterford All Ireland winner Patricia Jackman.
Kilkenny’s Michelle Quilty has been their top scorer this year to date and her accuracy from frees will prove vital if WIT are to retain their title this weekend. Denise Gaule is the focal point of their attack and WIT will launch high balls into her, supported by the half forward running of Katie Power and Shelly Farrell. It is interesting to note that all six of the forwards for WIT hail from Kilkenny. Katie Power is back to full fitness after playing the latter stages of the league and the Ashbourne group games and this is a huge boost to the WIT side. UCD will need to play close attention to 2010 and 2011 Ashbourne Cup player of the match Katrina Parrock, if they can stop her running from midfield it will go a long way to stopping WIT.
UCD will be disappointed with how the year has gone for them so far, beaten by UUJ in the league and only overcoming Queens by a few points and losing to UCC in the first group game. They have been good in patches and produced their best display when they turned the tables on UUJ in their final group game to finish group runners up. UCD will need to play consistently for the full sixty minutes if they are to overcome WIT. Captained by Kilkenny’s Leann Fennelly and Dublin senior Kate McDonald, both players will need to produce inspirational displays to keep the WIT attack at bay.
UCD are strong down the middle with Eileen McElroy one of their hidden gems. The hard working Monaghan lady can play in midfield or attack and she was outstanding for UCD in their group game against UUJ. Galway senior player Sandra Tannion and Clare’s Ruth Kaiser are also on the UCD side and UCD will be hoping they can continue their excellent form of late and give the WIT plenty of trouble. Tannion can play in either attack or defence but may be required to do a man marking job.
If the UCD defence is watertight and if they approach the game in the correct frame of mind and are mentally strong they could cause an upset and come out on the right side of a narrow victory. WIT will however start as favourites and should have enough to see them through to Sunday’s final against either UCC or UL.
Pictured below: WIT & Kilkenny team-mates Katie Power and Collette Dormer will be hoping to hit an unprecedented four-in-a row Ashbourne titles for WIT in this weekend’s finals