Hurlers hoping to continue winning ways against Exiles
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.