The elite of Irish university football will compete at the University of Ulster’s Jordanstown campus next week (Monday, February 25) for the biggest prize in cross-border students’ soccer.
The host side is bidding to add the coveted Collingwood Cup to its silverware collection in the £13m state-of-the art sports centre where the historic all-Ireland competition is being held.
Jordanstown player and club chairman, Taylor Kirk, said: “We’ve been training hard in the build up to this year’s tournament and, of course, we would love to win at our home ground.
“We have a lot of young players, first year students, who joined the squad when graduates left. I don’t think they realised until recently how important the Collingwood Cup is.
“They have been chatting to former players on social networking sites and now they understand the significance. This is the biggest tournament of the year and we’re really looking forward to it.
“We won in 2008 and would love to repeat that success. We’re hoping that the home crowd will turn up at the outdoor pitches and cheer us on.
“The regular favourites are UCD, they’re always a very strong team and also UCC who won a few years ago. Collingwood games set a high standard of football and certainly there will be some excellent matches to watch.”
UCD manager Diarmuid McNally is also looking forward to taking part in the tournament on the Jordanstown campus.
His side’s win last year over Mary Immaculate College Limerickwas their fourth Collingwood victory in six years after going from 1994 until 2007 without any success in the cup competition which will celebrate its centenary next year.
He said: “We are looking forward to defending the cup at Jordanstown.
“In my time UCD have had mixed luck when Northern Ireland universities have hosted the Collingwood. Coleraine in 2006 was disappointing where Jordanstown under Shane McCullough won it after defeating us 1-0 in a classic semi final.
“But we had much better luck two years ago in the Collingwood hosted by University of Ulster Magee, taking home the cup after a penalty shoot out win over NUI Galway at the Brandywell.”
Newtownabbey Borough Council is supporting the premier inter-varsities championship this year.
Mayor of Newtownabbey, Alderman Victor Robinson, said: “It’s fantastic that this prestigious national competition is coming to the Borough.
“Newtownabbey is truly a place for top level sport. Good luck to all the players and officials for the tournament. We hope all the teams enjoy their visit to the Borough and have an injury free stay.”
Welcoming the 12 teams to the Jordanstown campus, Dr Nigel Dobson, Head of Sports Services, said: “We are all looking forward to a very exciting Collingwood Cup 2013.
“This prestigious event will help us showcase our world-class facilities for soccer and many other sports and we wish all teams well in their endeavors and thank Taylor Kirk, sponsors and Newtownabbey Borough Council for their efforts towards making the event a real success.”
IUFU chairman, Terry McAuley, added: “The Collingwood Cup hosted this year at the University of Ulster Jordanstown, with it’s excellent facilities, promises to be a really exciting tournament.
“There is no one clear favourite and all the teams will be hoping to lift the coveted trophy at the final on Thursday afternoon. Good luck to all the players and officials and I am looking forward to the start of the competition on Monday morning.”
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25
NUI Maynooth v University of Limerick (11.0; Dublin City University v University of Ulster Magee (11.0); University College Cork v NUI Galway (2.30); Trinity College Dublin v Queens University Belfast (2.30).
Byes: University College Dublin, Mary Immaculate College Limerick, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, University of Ulster Jordanstown.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26
(A) Royal College of Surgeons Ireland v University of Ulster Jordanstown (11.0); (B) Mary Immaculate College Limerick v University College Dublin (11.0); (C) University College Cork/NUI Galway v Trinity College Dublin/Queens University Belfast (2.30); (D) NUI Maynooth/University of Limerick v Dublin City University/University of Ulster,Magee (2.30).
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27 (2.30)
Winner Q/F (A) v Winner Q/F(B); Winner Q/F (C) v Winner Q/F (D).
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28 (2.0)
Collingwood Cup Final