O’Brien predicts a final to savour
INTERVIEW PAT’S MANAGER EXPECTING GOOD GAME
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.