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This weekend six teams battle it out to reach the final stages of the Ashbourne Cup hosted by Cork Institute of Technology on February 20th & 21st. University of Ulster Jordanstown already booked their place, defeating Athlone IT by 3-19 to 0-03 on Wednesday afternoon in Kinnegad. Read Fionnuala Carr’s previews of the remaining fixtures.

Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) v Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT)


WIT have a wealth of talent to call on including Kilkenny captain and All-Star recipient Ann Dalton, Wexford’s prolific forward Ursula Jacob and æYoung Player of the Year’, Kilkenny’s Denise Gaule. CIT, in front of a home crowd at their newly built GAA complex will look to the guile of Julie McGrath and Elaine O’Riordan in the backline as well as the skills of Michelle Browne, Christine O’Neill and Denise Lubey to cause an upset. However, the experience of WIT, this year’s Ashbourne favourites, may tip the balance in their favour.

University College Cork (UCC) v University of Limerick (UL)


Also in Cork at the famed Mardyke grounds UCC take on UL in what promises to be an enthralling encounter. Cork’s Orla Cotter and Denise Cronin, Tipperary’s Jill Horan and Aoife McLoughney along with Kilkenny duo Therese Muldowney and Elaine O’ Shea line out for the Cork side. UL also boast a talented squad that includes Waterford’s Aine Lyng along with Cork pair Mary Coleman and Ciara Johnston. With two evenly matched teams predicting a winner is difficult but home advantage for UCC may prove a deciding factor.

University College Dublin (UCD) v National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG)

In the final qualifier UCD have home advantage against the 2009 Ashbourne Shield winners. The Dublin side enter the tie as favourites despite having lost many of the players that helped them claim back-to-back titles in æ07 and æ08. NUIG fresh from last year’s success have Cork’s Deirdre Twomey and Offaly’s All-Star winner 2008 Michaela Morkan. UCD will be relying on the experienced Mairead Luttrell at full-back and Kilkenny’s Leanne Fennelly to pull them through.

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