Students have been heading back to colleges and Universities all over the country in recent weeks and it has not taken long for them to find their sporting feet.
The 2019/2020 Rustlers Third Level Football season was officially launched on Thursday afternoon at the FAI National Training Centre.
111 teams will compete in the Rustlers Colleges and Universities Football League that runs from October until early March across the island with the likes of Northern Regional College, Queen’s University Belfast, South-West College and Ulster University competing with 44 institutions from the south in seven divisions of Men’s and Women’s Football.
The league continues to have a strong representation of players from the SSE Airtricity League and Só Hotels Women’s National League with over 100 men’s players and 50 women’s players competing against their academic peers.
Notably, there is a strong representation from the National Leagues on the sideline with familiar faces such as Johnny McDonnell and Martin Russell taking charge of the Men’s first team’s of DCU and Maynooth University.
Also, the managers of the current top three of the Só Hotels Women’s National League will also take charge of Third Level sides as Tom Elmes remains in charge of IT Carlow’s Men’s team with James O’Callaghan and Dave Bell overseeing the Women’s teams of Maynooth University and University College Cork respectively.
There are a number of cup competitions to also whet the appetite throughout the season.
Trinity College will host the finals of the 100th edition of the Collingwood Cup in February. The first final took place in 1914 in Dalymount Park. The CFAI Colleges Cup Final will be taking place in March as Waterford IT look to retain the coveted trophy. The Women’s Intervarsities Finals headlined by the Kelly Cup will be hosted in March as Waterford IT host the competition after previously hosting in 2015.
Speaking at the launch of the new season, FAI National Coordinator for Schools and Third Level Football Mark Scanlon was excited for the year ahead. “As each new season comes along it brings a new sense of excitement as the Third Level Institutions compete against each other. Third Level Football offers the platform for players to emerge from underage football and break out into senior football.”
“Even at today’s launch, we’ve got a number of players that will be playing in the Extra.ie FAI Cup Semi-Finals, the SSE Airtricity League First Division Play-Offs, the Só Hotels FAI Women’s Senior Cup Semi-Finals and important upcoming Senior International games for the Women’s National Team. Hopefully, when the 2020 season rolls around we will have even more players ready for Senior football after some battle-hardening experiences in Third Level Football”.
Rustlers Marketing Manager Elaine Rothballer is looking forward to the forthcoming season. “Rustlers is proud to continue our sponsorship of Third Level Football and remain committed to supporting the concept of young people combining sport and education. We wish everyone all the best for the new season” .