O’Brien pre­dicts a fi­nal to savour


Bray People - - Sport - Mark KENNEDY

ST. PA­TRICK’S man­ager Casey O’Brien is a man with his fin­gers crossed hop­ing that lighting will strike twice (or re­ally is it three times) in this year of the triple wins.

This is the year that Kilkenny hurlers com­pleted their three in a row. This is the year Ty­rone foot­ballers won their third All-Ire­land in six years. And now St. Pa­trick’s are hop­ing to com­plete their hat-trick of three county foot­ball ti­tles in five sea­sons.

‘It would be nice to feel that light­en­ing would strike twice’, said Casey this week as he plots the down­fall of op­po­nents Kil­te­gan in Sun­day’s de­cider.

‘I think Ty­rone and St. Pa­trick’s play a sim­i­lar type of foot­ball. We get men be­hind the ball; we move it out quick and get it to our in­side for­wards quick. It would be nice to think we could do some­thing like Ty­rone did. We will be go­ing out and try­ing to do just that.’

Casey O’Brien, a great ser­vant of the Wick­low town club in hurl­ing and foot­ball over the years, took over as man­ager of the foot­ballers at the start of the year and in his first year at the helm he has guided them to the county fi­nal.

‘I think it is go­ing to be a very close fi­nal’ he sur­mises. ‘Kil­te­gan and St. Pa­trick’s are the two best teams in the county at the mo­ment. Kil­te­gan beat us last year in the cham­pi­onship quar­ter­fi­nal and de­servedly so. They looked very good when beat­ing Rath­new in this year’s semi-fi­nal and we are go­ing to be up against it. De­clan Pep­pard, an ex­pe­ri­enced of­fi­cial, is down to ref­eree the fi­nal and it should all add to a great spec­ta­cle on the day.

‘St. Pa­trick’s will cer­tainly be up for it. We are train­ing very hard, but most of the work has been done over the year. One thing we won’t lack is fit­ness and I am confi- dent we will last the pace for the hour. It is all about things go­ing right for you, winning those cru­cial break­ing balls. You need a bit of luck on the day as well’.

As al­ways there is a great buzz in the county town in the run up to the fi­nal. Wick­low is a blaze of colour with Eu­gene Doo­ley and Eu­gene Doyle hav­ing done a fan­tas­tic job putting up bunt­ing, flags and what have you around the town.

And Casey O’Brien adds: ‘The mood in the camp and amongst the play­ers is ter­rific too. Th­ese guys have been there be­fore, they have played in county fi­nals; they know what it takes to win ti­tles. And they know they have to step up to the mark yet again if we are to cross the winning line’.

St. Pa­trick’s beat Sun­day’s op­po­nents in the fi­nal of 2006 and con­se­quently Casey O’Brien is ex­pect­ing Kil­te­gan to come at his team with all guns blaz­ing on Sun­day.

‘As I say, any team that beats Rath­new in the cham­pi­onship can­not be bad and Rath­new beat us ear­lier in the year. As far as I am con­cerned any team that beats Rath­new are the favourites. Ob­vi­ously Kil­te­gan are go­ing to go all out to gain re­venge for two years ago.’

How­ever, a lot can hap­pen in two years. There are two dif­fer­ent man­agers, a lot of dif­fer­ent play­ers. So what hap­pened in 2006 does not come into the equa­tion on Sun­day, it’s go­ing to be all down to what hap­pens on the day. I ex­pect Kil­te­gan to come at us full belt; you never get any­thing less from them in ei­ther hurl­ing or foot­ball. They are a great club and it’s go­ing to be one heck of a bat­tle’.

Casey O’Brien ac­cepts that a lot of the St. Pa­trick’s game is wo­ven around full-for­ward Paul Earls, who is prob­a­bly one of the best at­tack­ers in Le­in­ster if not in the whole coun­try.

‘But we also have other play­ers in the team who came do the job for us,’ he warns. John Slat­tery, Dar­ragh O’Sul­li­van and David Smullen if he is fit. And Mat­tie Byrne is also do­ing well for us. We know a lot de­pends on Paul Earls but we have other play­ers around who can fin­ish the job too.

‘I am sure Kil­te­gan are think­ing that if they can stop Paul Earls they will bring the Mi­ley Cup west, but it is up to us to counter ev­ery way we can. We have more than one string to our bow. We have other plans to am­bush our op­po­nents. But I am not go­ing to dis­close them at this stage.

‘In my view Kil­te­gan and St. Pa­trick’s are the two best foot­balling teams in the county at the mo­ment. I ex­pect it to be a free-flow­ing and fast game of foot­ball and, even though there might not be a lot of scores, I think if the game is let run, it has the mak­ings of be­ing one of the best county fi­nals in a long time. I think it will be a good spec­ta­cle for every­one who turns up at Aughrim on Sun­day.

‘We like to move the ball fast up the field, from backs to for­wards. But at the same time, we do not like to give away pos­ses­sion.

‘Our main thing is not to give the ball away. If we have the ball, the op­po­si­tion can­not do a whole with it.’

John Slat­tery of St. Pat’s is tracked by John Paul Dal­ton of Kil­te­gan dur­ing the Wick­low Se­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship fi­nal in 2006.

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