Noth­ing to fear for our hurlers

Wick­low face Down in de­cider

Bray People - - SPORT - PETER KEOGH NFL Di­vi­sion 2B fi­nal pre­view

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.

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