Round 1 of the 3rd Level Leagues begin this week with a local derby with UCC having home advantage with near neighbours CIT. UCC have been underachieving in recent years and will look to get their season underway with a victory on their home patch with senior inter-county stars Jill Horan from Tipp, Orla Cotter from Cork and Sara Collins from Limerick their big name players. CIT will look to Tipperarys Julie McGrath to provide them with the inspiration to achieve victory. UCC will be expected to pick up the points in what should be a close clash. Also in Division 1A WIT will take on UL, this game is too close to call with WIT boasting some of the Kilkenny underage stars while UL will be delighted with the return of sharpshooter -ine Lyng after missing last year due to placement, however they have lost former captain Eimear O’Sullivan and will need to
her leadership if they wish to do well.
Elsewhere in Division 1, UCD will host Ulsters elite UUJ. UUJ have excellent players in Eleanor Mallon and Michaela Convery from Aontroim, Karen McMullan, Sara Louise Carr, Paula Gribben and Karen Tinnelly from An D·n and Meabh McGoldrick from Doire and with a bit of leadership and belief could be dark horses for a win. UCD have lost Mary Leacy and Rena Buckley from last year’s panel and these will prove to be massive positions to fill. On recent history UCD will start as strong favourites on their home ground. Purcell Cup winners Athlone IT will take on Ashbourne Shield winners NUIG in what should be an intriguing contest with both teams looking to set a mark early in the season. Queens, under new management, have a bye in the first round.
In Division 2, the second string of UCC will play against IT Tralee who will be hoping to continue their growth and development to become competitive at the top level. WIT II will host UL II, whilst Carlow IT will be glad of another weeks training before taking to the field. In Section 2B UCD II have a local derby against DIT who are in the process of rebuilding but should still pick up the points. After a few years in the top flight Garda college made the decision to drop a grade and build on the foundations laid by Sandra Gillick. With many players based in the Leinster area they decided to join this section and will travel to St Pats, despite having lost a few players they will still be expected to gain maximum points. The third Dublin college to be involved in this division sees DCU take on NUIM, both teams have been competitive at this level for a number of years and a draw could be the outcome.