Fitzpatrick Cup 2020 – CIT Saints Preview

The CIT Saints are looking ahead to this weeks Fitzpatrick Cup with optimism. We had a quick chat at last months Australia Plate game with Saints coach Eoin O’Sullivan. He explained that after their debut in last years tournament, CIT have gone from strength to strength and have built on last years experience.
“We’re still a relatively new club, but we’ve enjoyed the baptism of fire. Last year we took out the Cork Colleges Cup and the Irish Universities Cup, so the pressure is on to follow that up. But The Fitz is the jewel in the Uni AFL crown really, so that’s where our sights are set.”

Growing the sport has been key in the clubs development and as pointed out by Eoin, the support they have received with the AFL community in Cork has been vital.
“The game has been growing in popularity in Cork year on year lately. We now boast 3 mens clubs and 2 womens clubs on Leeside, so the hard work ispaying dividends. At the CIT Saints we’ve got a fantastic Club Committee, a supportive Sports Dept., and a committed group of players. Hosting the Euro Cup in 2018 helped increase awareness and boosted our recruitment massively.
Other recent developments like The Leeside League have afforded us the opporunity to play competitive games and our new boys got more than a taste of footy there. Couple that withplayers togging out for the AFL Ireland Premiership team The Leeside Lions too, we’re going well.”

So based on the past years recruitment drive and competitive outings, what does Eoin see as a reasonable target at this years Fitzpatrick Cup?
“It’s simple really, like i’ve said all along – we want to win The Fitz. I’ll make no bones about it, we’ll be up against it with UCC, Birmingham, Oxford & Cambridge – and then a new Welsh Team and Danish Team competing this year. We’re under no illusions as to what the job is ahead, but we have a talented group of players and we’re going over to win.”

A tough ask no doubt at this years tournament, but Eoin is quick to point out what spurs his side on in their quest for Fitz Cup glory.
“Look, getting over our neighbours UCC is the biggest task in my eyes, their second team are every bit as strong as their firsts. And we have Oxford in one group and Birmingham in the other, so no easy route. It’s an exciting challenge, and one our boys are relishing.”

The Saints’ competitive edge is a trait that Sull feels may get his team over the line this year. “The boys just never let up, never stop going. You have the likes of Ross Moynihan, Padraic O Sullivan, Oisin Fitz… these lads are everywhere! And out-and-out footballers in every line aswell, fellas who arekeen to get on ball and on the front foot, it’s relentless stuff.”

The hard work that has been put in on the training fields under the tutelage of himself and experienced assistant, Paul Murphy, is sure to stand to the Saints when they take to the field in Oxford.
“Kicking has improved greatly in recent weeks – correct options being taken, making sure of goals instead of behinds (or 6 pointers as the boys call them), it’s all going well. Murph is a big part of that. His calm approach is a direct contrast to mine, but his experience of this comp is of massive benefit to us.

So who are the young stars expected to catch the eye this weekend? Eoin explains:
“James Hegarty is a solid backman, a huge find this year. Eoin O Neill is another. We’ve a few great on-ballers in the mids with aussie Dave Perkinson and Eamonn Browne getting on ball a lot, and Sean Tyres, Patrick Connolly coming off half back. Fiachra Harrington is a mid/forward who is involved in all that’s good, and Andrew & Sean O Neill have talent to burn. Add in the experienced lads and you see why we’re quietly confident.”

The CIT Saints are sure to rise to the challenge this weekend in Oxford. Having put in the hard work throughout the past year, expect them to play without fear in their aim to try and take the Fitz Cup back to the other side of the Rebel City.

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