Mary Immaculate manager Jamie Wall with his players after the game.

Source: Mike Shaughnessy/INPHO

JAMIE WALL’S PRIMARY experience of a final against DJ Carey was back in 2003 when he hoped as a youngster to see the Kilkenny great fall short as captain in the All-Ireland senior hurling final.

Tomorrow he’ll be up against him on the sideline in the Fitzgibbon Cup final. Wall as manager of reigning champions Mary Immaculate College – victors today over Limerick IT – against an IT Carlow side that Carey is in charge of.

“The only final I ever had to deal with DJ Carey was in 2003, going to Croke Park to support Cork and he was captain of Kilkenny. I was 11, crying my heart out when Kilkenny won.

“These things are nice to see but it’s about the teams that are going against each other, the two colleges. For them it’s a massive occasion, it’s their first ever Fitzgibbon final.

DJ Carey lifts the Liam MacCarthy Cup for Kilkenny in 2003.

Source: INPHO

“Realistically our history in the competition only extends to 2013. We only have one Fitzgibbon Cup and this is only our third ever weekend and all three of them have been in the last five years.

“I would have played in our first final in 2013 (against UCC) and that was in Pearse Stadium as well. It’s funny, UCC lost the semi-final today so things nearly had nearly come full circle if they’d won.”

The Mary Immaculate College team before the 2013 Fitzgibbon Cup final

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Wall paid tribute to his players achievement in returning the final, twelve months after their breakthrough victory.

“It’s a great achievement for a college like Mary I. It would have been unheard of 20 years ago. It’s mad.

“I suppose a man who’s in the news is Claudio Ranieri, if last year was Leicester winning the league and us winning the Fitzgibbon, getting to the Fitzgibbon Cup final again this year for a college the size of Mary I – with the male population of Mary I – it’s like Leicester winning the Champions League this year.

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The Mary Immaculate College team before today’s semi-final

Source: Mike Shaughnessy/INPHO

“It’s a huge achievement for the lads. We’ve a wonderful group of players and it’s no less than they deserve. St Mary’s win last week (in the Sigerson Cup) was a phenomenal achievement.

“Spirit goes a long way but that’d be doing a discredit to our lads, there’s an awful lot of quality as well in our ranks.

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“It was just pure Fitzgibbon hurling today. That’s why we love it as much as we do. Players love to play, it’s very tight, it’s very honest. We’re very happy.”

They have a high level of familiarity with tomorrow’s final opponents IT Carlow.

“We know them very well,” says Wall.

“We played them in the league semi-final and the group stages. These two teams have kind of come up together since Freshers. It’s a game we’re really looking forward to.

“I think you have two very evenly matched colleges, numbers wise that are a lot smaller than the rest in Ireland but who obviously are in the middle of very strong hurling areas.”

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