Hurlers should have no fear of this Down team and it is one they are more than ca­pa­ble of beat­ing

Bray People - - SPORT - The Michael Neary view

FOL­LOW­ING their com­pre­hen­sive vic­tory over Fin­gal in their fi­nal League game the Wick­low hurlers have suc­cess­fully qual­i­fied for the Di­vi­sion 2B fi­nal which will be played this Satur­day in Na­van at 3pm.

With the foot­ballers in­volved in a must win league game away to Tip­per­ary in Thurles on Sun­day it is cer­tainly the most im­por­tant weekend to date this year for both teams.

The hurlers, who meet Down, will be seek­ing to re­verse the re­sult from their ear­lier meet­ing in the league sec­tion and I am con­fi­dent that they will.

In fact, I think that they will win by at least six to eight points. Down, with the game now be­ing played in Na­van, will be out of their com­fort zone of the Ards Pen­nin­sula. I have al­ways found that Ul­ster teams play with a dif­fer­ent men­tal­ity when fixed to play out­side of their prov­ince.

This is a much changed and weaker Down team from the one that won the Christy Ring fi­nal last year and one that Wick­low are more than ca­pa­ble of beat­ing.

I also think that they don't have enough at­tack­ing qual­ity in re­serve to re­place their miss­ing match win­ning for­wards Paul Bran­nif, Gareth 'Magic' John­son and the Coyle broth­ers.

Wick­low on the other hand will be buoyed up with the big score they reg­is­tered last time out even if it was against weak op­po­si­tion like Fin­gal.

The Wick­low man­age­ment team have stuck with more or less a set­tled se­lec­tion since the com­mence­ment of the League.

Re­al­is­ti­cally only one po­si­tion has been changed reg­u­larly namely cen­tre-half for­ward with Anto Byrne, Bernie Byrne, Andy O'Brien and Aaron Nu­gent all start­ing a game at num­ber 11.

I ex­pect the team to re­main on the same lines with Andy get­ting the nod to start the fi­nal in this po­si­tion.

Af­ter an ab­sence of nearly three years from the county scene Ted Kennedy has re­turned to the county goal and has added greater sta­bil­ity to this area.

Ted is a solid, brave, safe, no non­sense keeper. He has con­sid­er­able phys­i­cal pres­ence in the goal. H

e prob­a­bly re­quires greater op­tions from his de­fend­ers when in pos­ses­sion es­pe­cially when forced onto his weaker side.

The place­ment of Stephen Kelly at full­back has with­out doubt trans­formed this team.

A stand­out player who gives great as­sur­ance to the full-back line with an added abil­ity to cover his team mates when ex­posed.

John Hen­der­son's im­por­tance to the team is right up there with Ch­ester's. He has been out­stand­ing at mid­field and also at cen­tre half back when re­quired to play in this area.

Mikey Lee has prob­a­bly been our most con­sis­tent at­tacker to date this year. Scor­ing 2-14 in any game is a re­mark­able achieve­ment by any stan­dards.

This ex­cel­lent scor­ing feat was recog­nised by the na­tional me­dia with his se­lec­tion on the hurl­ing team of the week.

This is a great achieve­ment con­sid­er­ing that all the top coun­ties were in ac­tion last weekend. If there is any down side to his se­lec­tion it is that ev­ery­one will now be look­ing out for him in games. I am well sure Mikey can han­dle any ex­tra at­ten­tion and hope­fully the other for­wards can cap­i­talise on any ex­tra free­dom that may now come their way.

Young player Danny Stan­ton will be happy with the progress he has made to date in his first year at Se­nior level.

There are many very ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers with sig­nif­i­cant big match day ex­pe­ri­ence on this Wick­low team such as Liam Kennedy, Ro­nan Keddy, Andy O'Brien, Wayne O'Gor­man, and Jonathan O'Neill and I ex­pect these play­ers to­gether with the four star play­ers men­tioned above to have enough knowhow in their locker to guar­an­tee vic­tory and more im­por­tantly pro­mo­tion to Di­vi­sion 2A.

Thank­fully the win­ners of next Sun­day's fi­nal are guar­an­teed di­rect pro­mo­tion to Di­vi­sion 2A. Spare a thought for the win­ners of the Di­vi­sion 2A fi­nal be­tween Kerry and Car­low.

They won't be guar­an­teed pro­mo­tion to Di­vi­sion 1B au­to­mat­i­cally. They will firstly have to beat Of­faly (who lost the Di­vi­sion 1A rel­e­ga­tion fi­nal against Antrim) mak­ing it dou­bly hard for a team from Di­vi­sion 2A to get pro­moted.

This also gives Of­faly a fur­ther chance of stay­ing up in Di­vi­sion 1B. This is an­other ex­am­ple of the GAA hi­er­ar­chy do­ing their best to make things as dif­fi­cult as pos­si­ble for the so called weaker coun­ties to make that step up.

I see the Pres­i­dent of the GAA has an­nounced the make up of the new Hurl­ing Re­view Com­mit­tee.

Some very ca­pa­ble and knowl­edge­able hurl­ing people have been selected with Liam Sheedy (Tip­per­ary) chair­ing the group.

No per­son from a county cur­rently out­side Di­vi­sion 1A and 1B has been in­vited to join the com­mit­tee. This omis­sion to­gether with the non-in­clu­sion of Wick­low, Meath, Kil­dare and Down in the re­cent an­nounce­ment re­gard­ing additional hurl­ing fund­ing por­trays se­ri­ous doubts about the Pres­i­dent's com­mit­ment to hurl­ing out­side the top tier.

Here's hop­ing that our county foot­ballers can beat Tip­per­ary away and that Antrim do us a favour and de­feat Clare.

With Tip­per­ary hav­ing al­ready gained pro­mo­tion and qual­i­fied for the Di­vi­sion 4 fi­nal and with their un­der-21 foot­ballers in the Mun­ster fi­nal the fol­low­ing Wed­nes­day can we ex­pect a much changed li­ne­out from them on Sun­day?

With the long de­lay un­til the Le­in­ster Cham­pi­onship against Laois, a league fi­nal in Croke Park would be a big bonus not to men­tion the huge sig­nif­i­cance of pro­mo­tion.

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