Nothing to fear for our hurlers
Wicklow face Down in decider
CASEY O'BRIEN faces the first big challenge of the hurling year when he takes his side the Pairc Talteain, Navan to take on Down in a battle for promotion on Saturday.
So far this has been a year of mixed fortunes for Casey and his men.
They started the season with a couple of good wins in the Kehoe Cup but then slumped badly against Meath in a semi-final in Trim.
They avenged that setback in the first round of the league in Arklow when they turned in one of their better displays to fairly trounce the Royals.
Their second slump came when they were well beaten by Saturday's opponents, Down, up in Ballycran.
That was a day when little went right for Wicklow. The home side had first use of a strong wind and were six points up before the Wicklow lads found their feet. Despite their best efforts the home side were still leading by 1-8 to 0-3 at half time
With the strong wind behind them, Wicklow still looked in with a chance. Then another hammer blow - one of their top scorers Andy O'Brien was sent off on a straight red and the team was down to 14 men.
Down won in the end by 1-15 to 0-10 but in his summing up of the match, Dave Murray pointed out that Down had built up that eight point lead in the first 15 minutes and, wind or no wind, against 14 men they never managed to build on that.
None of that should tempt anyone to underestimate the task that faces Wicklow on Sunday.
While Wicklow have been working hard since and have definitely improved it would be foolish to think that Down have been standing still.
With great Waterford man, Paul Flynn, of Ballygunner, training them they too are sure to have improved.
So the stage is set for a great battle in a code that is going from strength to strength.
Wicklow's defence has gave the supporters a few anxious moments but the hope is that they are keeping the best wine till last.
Ronan Keddy and John Henderson will hold their own with any pairing at midfield but should Henderson have to be pulled back to seal off gaps in defence that could change.
With the right supply of the ball we have forwards that can do the business. Mikey Lee has to be one of the best forwards in the division, but one man could never hope to win a hurling match. 'Bosco' is due a blinder and this could be the day.
Christy Moorehouse is seldom held scoreless while Danny Staunton, the youngest player on the team is improving with every match.
The captain, Wayne O'Gorman, will lead from the front and he is another that is due a big game. That brings us down to the hard Andy.
The first question is 'will Casey start him? Or will he hold him in reserve?
I have no answers to that one but this is a final and we should have the best team available on the field from the start.
If Andy does start then young Aaron Nugent could be the one to lose out but the Glenealy lad is sure to see service at some time in this match.
At this stage many are lamenting the loss of Eamonn Kearns who is out of the country and the injury that has kept Geoffrey Bermingham on the bench since the early matches in the Kehoe Cup.
The message is we have nothing to fear if we play up to our top form. A good and vocal following is a great help and Casey is appealing to all hurling followers in the county to turn up and give the team a big boost. Navan is not that far and most travellers will be able to do the journey on a motorway.
This is our chance to get the year off to a big start so let everyone, players, mentors and supporters give it their best shot.