Home advantage in Collingwood Cup a bonus for Cork
Holders University College Cork will be extra keen to retain the Irish Universities Collingwood Cup when the annual four day tournament - now celebrating its 102nd year - begins this Tuesday with three first round games at UCC Sports Ground, The Farm Curraheen.
Home advantage can always be a help but a cautious UCC manager Noel Healy warns it also carries a fair amount of added pressure for his players to handle.
“The Collingwood Cup has always been a major date in the UCC Soccer calendar and a large presence of former players, family members and supporters will always turn up for it whether we play home or away. This will certainly be the case in Cork” explained Healy.
“It has always been a great tournament, but given its extremely testing format of four days of high intensity football, it must be one of the hardest football competitions to win,” continued Healy.
“It’s four successive days of intense knock out games with extra time and penalty shoot-outs and it puts great pressure on the players to perform. But that’s the nature of the tournament, and we have to deal with it by preparing with a strong 23-man strong squad,” added Healy.
Healy and his assistant Conor Uhl first tasted success in the competition in 2011 as part of John Caulfield’s management team when they defeated NUI Galway in the final at College Park Dublin.
The duo then went on to guide the Cork university to last year's win in Galway following the departure of Caulfield to manage Cork City.
Stiff competition for UCC will certainly come from UCD, Maynooth University and the University of Limerick while DCU who have never won the cup are also expected to make a bid for a first ever success.
Last season’s beaten finalists Trinity College Dublin have been handed a derby clash with Dublin City University in the quarter finals on Wednesday.
While 2015 hosts NUI Galway who went out to UCC in last year’ semi final, will face formidable opponents in Queens University Belfast as they once again bid to capture the prize that has eluded them since their last success in 1999.
The surprise side of this year's tournament could be the newly-created Ulster University – a team selected for the first time from the three UU campus' - Jordanstown, Coleraine and Magee College.
Tuesday, February 23 (2.30pm)
UCD v Royal College of Surgeons, UCC Sports Ground The Farm, Curaheen
NUI Galway v Queens University Belfast, UCC Sports Ground The Farm, Curaheen
Ulster University v Maynooth University, UCC Sports Ground The Farm, Curaheen
Wednesday, February 24 (2.30pm)
(A) UCD/Royal College of Surgeons v NUI Galway/Queens University Belfast, UCC Sports Ground The Farm, Curaheen
(B) Ulster University/Maynooth University v UCC, The Mardyke
(C) University of Limerick v Mary Immaculate College, UCC Sports Ground The Farm, Curaheen
(D) DCU v Trinity College Dublin, UCC Sports Ground The Farm, Curaheen
Thursday, February 25 (2.30pm)
Winner Quarter Final A v Winner Quarter Final B
Winner Quarter Final C v Winner Quarter Final D
Both games at UCC Sports Ground The Farm, Curaheen
Friday, February 26 (4pm)