WICKLOW are Allianz National Hurling league Division 2B champions after they defeated Down at the weekend. The Garden County can now look forward to meeting neighbours Carlow and Kildare in 2A next year as the gap between the divisions draws ever closer.
Wicklow manager, Casey O'Brien, was understandably delighted with the divisional win and although the margin was just two points in the end the manager felt his side were worthy of a bigger win.
“It was only a two point win but to be honest I thought we were a four or five point better team on the day, the lads hurled exceptionally and fully deserved it, in the last few minutes we probably defended a lot but that's what happens in a final,” said Casey.
The manager says Wicklow hurling has come a long way in recent years and has the height of praise for the younger members of the panel.
“The whole thing has come full circle. If you think back to when we won our first league and the likes of Mikey Lee and Daniel Staunton were probably only 13 or 14 years of age. Now, not only are they on the panel, but they are integral parts of the team, that's how much hurling in Wicklow has come along, it's a good sign,” said Casey.
The panel runs deeper than that again even and the manager complemented the entire contingent.
“Daniel, I think, turned 19 the day before the match, that's how young he is, then there's Anto Byrne who played his part all year and the clubs deserve huge credit, especially Glenealy and Bray Emmets with the work they've done producing all these young guys, we won our first league back in 2010 and the likes of these young guys seen this when they were 15 or 16 and it made them want to put on the Wicklow jersey,” suggested O'Brien.
The manager didn't forget about the older members of the panel either who he says have kept plugging away in bad times and in good.
“If you look at Liam, Ronan, and Bosco, these guys are 31 or 32 and Bosco, well, nobody knows how old Bosco is,” laughs the manager.
“But these guys have had the years of winning nothing and they deserve huge credit too,” says O'Brien.
The manager paid special tribute to Eamonn Kearns who missed the league due to work commitments abroad.
“When you think we went the whole league without Eamonn, that's massive, he was probably our best hurler in the last few years and he trained 10 or 11 times before christmas and I know he will be gutted to have missed out because this would mean a lot to him but for a Wicklow team to win 2B without the likes of him, says an awful lot about how much hurling has improved in the last few years,” said Casey.
Wicklow captain, Wayne O’Gorman, lifts the Division 2B Cup after the Garden County defeated Down in Navan.