Fitzgibbon Cup final replay: Busy schedule suits Tony Kelly’s ambitions

UL hoping to stay ahead of WIT this time out

UL’s Tony Kelly comes face to face with WIT’s Gavin O’Brien in the drawn final. Photo: Inpho/Lorraine O’Sullivan

UL’s Tony Kelly comes face to face with WIT’s Gavin O’Brien in the drawn final. Photo: Inpho/Lorraine O’Sullivan

 

After crashing to eventual champions Waterford IT in last year’s semi-final, University of Limerick and Clare’s Tony Kelly will hope to add a Fitzgibbon Cup to his sideboard in this evening’s final replay.

Starring for cross-city rivals Limerick IT 12 months ago, the 2013 senior and young player of the year was unable to end WIT’s march to the title. Now studying business in UL, Kelly, who only turned 21 in January, will likely be the key man as Brian Lohan’s side try to find a way past the champions following last week’s draw after extra time.

It promises to be a busy week for the talented Ballyea man: he played the full 70 minutes of Clare’s Allianz League defeat to Tipperary on Sunday; he faces WIT on Wednesday night (7.30pm at Páirc Uí Rinn); and he will likely be called upon when Clare welcome Dublin to Cusack Park on Saturday afternoon.

But Kelly is hungry for all the action he can get this season. “For ourselves [Clare] we were mad to get back into it, with the way the senior finished last year for us. We were more disappointed in ourselves more than anything else. This year we are eager to start putting a few performances together and we think if we can get the best performance out of ourselves we will give ourselves the best chance of winning.”

Lining up alongside Tipp senior Jason Forde in a strong midfield, Kelly has carried last year’s Fitzgibbon Cup form – he hit 1-10 for LIT to knock his new colleagues out of the 2014 competition – into his new shirt.

And speaking at the announcement of the Castletroy Park Hotel as sponsors of all UL GAA clubs, Kelly was full of praise for Forde and his adopted team as they seek a first Fitzgibbon Cup since 2011. “We know Jason from the inter-county scene. He has been playing myself and Jack Browne with Clare since minor, U-21 and now senior. He is one of the sharp-shooters in senior hurling let alone his own age at U-21 and Fitzgibbon. He gave an exhibition of hurling when we beat NUI Galway [he scored 0-10]. His all round game is brilliant, and his movement. Everything, he is a top class forward.

“But UL always have a strong team. They have a strong team with the last few years. The main focus this year is trying to get the whole thing together and everyone playing off the same hymn sheet. When you are winning things begin to gel a bit better. Not only have we a strong spine but our panel is fairly strong. We have another good hurling intermediate team so that shows the strength and depth of the team.

“Whether it’s for Clare or UL, you want to win every day when you go out. For ourselves, we want to do ourselves justice and perform to the best we can, but I would be lying if I told you that if we went didn’t win anything that I would be happy. It is all about winning at the end of the day. We want to try and win as many cups whether it be Munster, All-Irelands, Fitzgibbons or leagues. We want to try and win as much as we can,” he said.

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