Hurlers hop­ing to con­tinue win­ning ways against Ex­iles

Bray People - - SPORT -

THE IN­TER-COUNTY ac­tion switches to hurl­ing next Sun­day as Wick­low fly out to Lon­don to en­gage the Ex­iles in the 3A league.

Both teams are un­beaten af­ter two games and, in a tight five game divi­sion, nei­ther can af­ford a slip-up that might well scup­per their chances of pro­mo­tion as well as league sil­ver­ware. There was a time when Lon­don were con­sid­ered easy pick­ings in hurl­ing and foot­ball but not any more with their teams bol­stered by an in­flux of em­i­grants in re­cent years.

Em­i­gra­tion has re­sulted in over 500 foot­ballers and hurlers trans­fer­ring to Lon­don GAA over the last two years, 300 of them last year, and this has re­sulted in Lon­don reach­ing suc­ces­sive Nickey Rackard Cup fi­nals in 2009 and 2010.

Qual­ity play­ers like Cork's Michael Walsh, who had been on the county panel, Kevin Walsh and Richard O'Con­nor are now play­ing their hurl­ing across the wa­ter as is Tip­per­ary's Ai­dan Fitzger­ald, Gal­way's Ai­dan Byrne and Alan Raf­ferty who has moved back to Lon­don from New York.

In those fi­nals Lon­don were beaten nar­rowly by Meath and Ar­magh by a point and Lon­don County board sec­re­tary John Mol­loy re­veals that their aim in 2011 is to qual­ify for a third suc­ces­sive fi­nal and have a good run in the league.

Since Casey O'Brien took charge of Wick­low's hurlers at the be­gin­ning of 2010 there has been a sim­i­lar up­ward tra­jec­tory to that of Lon­don.

Casey O'Brien and his men can take an­other step on Sun­day to­wards achiev­ing their goal of win­ning the 3A league this year and mov­ing up to Divi­sion two hurl­ing in Olympic year 2012.

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