Ollie Bellew still hopeful of Ulster University's Fitzgibbon Cup hopes
HE GAA Fitzgibbon Cup Group D: Ulster University v Maynooth University (Today, UUJ, 2pm)
ULSTER University hurling manager Ollie Bellew says it's now “do-or-die” for his men against Fitzgibbon Cup group opponents Maynooth University this afternoon.
A victory today will put the Ulstermen on a likely collision course with Nicky English's UCD at Jordanstown next Tuesday to see who goes through to the quarter-finals with red-hot favourites UCC.
UCC, who have Tipperary stars Michael Breen and Seamus Kennedy in their ranks, travel to Belfield this afternoon (3pm) and are expected to make it back-to-back wins in Group D.
Last week, Ulster University suffered an 18-point defeat to the star-studded Cork-based students in Mardyke – but it hasn't dampened the ambition of Bellew's young crew.
“It was an 18-point deficit at the end of the day, and that looks bad for any team,” acknowledged Bellew. “But we hadn't hurled at all. We were going to the Mardyke which is the toughest university ground to go to.
“Their team was absolutely littered with stars and with 41 or 42 minutes gone there were only four points in it. So it was one hell of a performance from us up to that point.”
Bellew added: “We literally lost concentration for about seven or eight minutes and paid a real heavy price for it."
Cork's star forward Alan Cadogan bagged a hat-trick of goals against them last week.
“We weren't critical of the lads afterwards; we were very positive with them because they put in one hell of a shift against some big names. So going into tomorrow's game it seems a lot brighter than before the Cork game.”
Lamh Dhearg's Donal Nugent is available for UU today while Antrim ace Ciaran Johnston has recovered from injury which boosts Bellew's selection options against Maynooth who have Kilkenny's Padraig Walsh and Galway's Brian Molloy in their ranks.
“This is do-or-die for us now in order to set up a great game with UCD next Tuesday,” said Bellew
“But we're just concentrating on Maynooth and it's going to be a really tough one so we need to be focused on that.”