As we approach the latter half of the second semester, the college sporting calender is yet again jam packed with action this week. Here is just some of what we can look forward to over the coming days.
SSE Airtricity League First Division
The new SSE Airtricity League season kicks off this weekend with UCD opening their First Division campaign on Saturday night when they travel to St. Coleman's Park to take on a new look Cobh Ramblers side.
The students, who will ply their trade in domestic football's second tier this term having had their five year top flight stint brought to an end by a 5-1 aggregate defeat to Tommy Dunne's Galway United in last season's promotion/relegation play-off, have been with the loss of a number of key players over the past few months with the likes of Conor O'Donnell (Limerick FC), Aymen Ben Mohammed (Longford Town) and Hugh Douglas (Bray Wanderers) all moving on to pastures new.
However, boosted by the return of former Belfield favourites Evan McMillen and Mick Leahy following spells at Sligo Rovers and Limerick respectively, new manager Collie O'Neill and Director of Football Pat Devlin will be hoping their rather youthful looking squad can manage to mount a charge for promotion.
Ulster Bank All-Ireland League
Rugby loving university students across the country will have plenty of chances to get their AIL fix again this week. It all begins on Tuesday night in Division 1B as Trinity's Dublin University Football Club face Buccaneers before Saturday sees UCD host Young Munster in the top tier.
However, with both sides struggling in the lower regions of the Division 1B table, Friday's Limerick derby clash between UL Bohemians and Shannon is undoubtedly the most intriguing encounter on offer.
European Indoor Athletics Championships
UCD students Mark English and Ciara Everard will form part of the Irish squad set to travel to Prague this week to take part in the European Indoor Athletics Championships which will commence on Friday and end on Sunday.
Irish indoor record holder Everard, who shall compete in the 800m event, is the only female participant in the Irish squad whilst medicine scholar English, also an 800m competitor, will be looking to emulate or better the bronze medal success he enjoyed at the European Championships outdoors in Zurich last summer.
The group stages of Ladies football's premier colleges competition will come to a conclusion this week with UCD and DCU set to battle it out at Belfield on Thursday night for the last remaining spot in the finals weekend which will take place at Cork IT later this month. Given that UL, UCC and NUIG have all already sealed their places in the semi-finals, there will be little to play for in the three other final group games.
Nonethelss, with all six teams boasting an abundance of quality, you can still be sure there will be no shortage of top notch footballing fair on show. In Group A, Tuesday sees UCC at home to NUIG whilst on Thursday Mary Immaculate College travel to Kildare to face NUI Maynooth. Elsewhere on Thursday, Group B will also witness UL and Queen's meet in what will be a curtain raiser to the crucial Dublin derby later that evening at the Dublin 4 venue.
Photo: Independent.ie/ David Maher / SPORTSFILE