Hurlers set for clash with DCU

New look out­fit look­ing good

Bray People - - SPORT - PETER KEOGH Pre­view

Ke­hoe Cup

Wicklow v. DCU The sec­ond round of the Ke­hoe Cup fea­tur­ing Wicklow and DCU will be the only show in town at the week­end.

For­tune has again smiled on Casey as he gets an­other home match for his new look team. Had Fin­gal beaten DCU on Sun­day then Wicklow would have been away in the sec­ond round but stu­dents (God love them) have to do all the trav­el­ling.

While the venue had not been an­nounced at the time of writ­ing, we are all as­sum­ing that it will be in Bray once more.

The Bray club cer­tainly made a big im­pres­sion on ev­ery­one last week with the way they han­dled their first big hurl­ing fix­ture of the year.

The stew­ard­ing was ex­cel­lent and of course the Astro­turf pitch was in im­mac­u­late con­di­tion. With­out any shadow of doubt the stars of the show on a cold enough Jan­uary day were the ladies who turned out end­less cups of steam­ing hot tea and cof­fee to keep ev­ery­body in good hu­mour right through the evening.

If we needed a grim re­minder that this was still Jan­uary and mid-win­ter by any­body's stan­dards all we had to do was look up at the Sugar Loaf cov­ered to the ground in a heavy coat of snow - enough to chill the mar­row of even the most ded­i­cated sup­porter of the game.

Casey O'Brien, whether by ne­ces­sity or by choice, fielded what could only be de­scribed as a very ex­per­i­men­tal team on Sun­day last; it ranged in age and ex­pe­ri­ence from the great veteran Jonathan O'Neill in his new po­si­tion as goal­keeper to 17-year-old Daniel Staunton who fin­ished up in the num­ber 15 spot.

In be­tween we had play­ers like Brian Os­borne who is only back from a term abroad and was play­ing his first match in a Wicklow jersey in years, Gary Byrne from Gle­nealy who im­pressed at wing back, new mid­fielder Shane Byrne from Avon­dale and what I thought was the big­gest gam­ble of all was play­ing an 18-year-old like Mikie Lee at full for­ward.

It was also warm­ing to Eoin Ma­son at wing for­ward but then he did not come out again for the sec­ond half.

Any­way the se­lec­tors have a num­ber of other young play­ers on their panel that I'm sure they would like to have a look at which would in­clude gi­ant Mi­nor Cian Kelly from Gle­nealy, Harry Stephen­son from Bray Em­mets, Gavin Weir, Shane Nolan and Gino Fus­cardi, who did get a short run last week.

Casey will not want to take the stu­dents too lightly. No team coming from DCU at the present time can be re­garded as a pushover.

We noted on the report on last Sun­day's match that they have a par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous full for­ward line in Sean McGrath, Padraig Bre­hony and Colm Egan.

I don't know if Astro­turf pitches are of­fi­cially sanc­tioned for com­pet­i­tive matches but I do know that on Sun­day's ev­i­dence they are def­i­nitely the an­swer to fix­tures prob­lems at this time of year.

Had Sun­day's match to be played on what is even a good pitch in Bray it would have been a to­tally dif­fer­ent ball­game. Spec­ta­tors just mar­velled at the pace of the game and how free it was flow­ing at all times.

No she­moz­zle while the slio­tar was try­ing to be hacked out of a pool of water or a soft spot on the pitch; no slip­ping and slid­ing all over the place and both teams came off the field look­ing as if they might be coming in from a tea party.

While Casey is likely to be ex­per­i­ment­ing again he will also be anx­ious to get an­other win. Should we sur­vive this chal­lenge by the stu­dents on Sun­day, it would put us into a semi-fi­nal against ei­ther Ar­magh or Meath and while that game would be an away match it would still leave Wicklow with a rea­son­ably good chance of mak­ing the fi­nal of a com­pe­ti­tion which they have of­ten won in the past.

The only other match likely to be played in Wicklow on Sun­day, should pitch con­di­tions al­low, is the Di­vi­sion 2 rel­e­ga­tion play-off be­tween Ash­ford and Val­ley­mount.

That match was fixed for the An Tochar pitch in Round­wood last Sun­day morn­ing but had to be can­celled af­ter tor­ren­tial rain made what is re­garded one of Wicklow's best win­ter pitches to­tally un­playable.

It's a fair bet that the fix­tures peo­ple will still be stick­ing with that venue but it should be re­mem­bered that snow is also a fac­tor in one of the high­est pitches in Ire­land.

The West Win­ter League ap­pears to be gone into moth­balls for the moment. The rea­son be­ing that a num­ber of the clubs due to take part have not reg­is­tered their play­ers as yet, and with­out reg­is­tra­tion there is no in­surance cover.

Out­go­ing fix­tures boss Tom Byrne ven­tured the opin­ion that the real start-up date will now be de­ferred to the first week­end in Fe­bru­ary.

Wicklow’s Andy O’Brien gath­ers the ball ahead of Down’s Eoin Clarke.

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