Casey has Pat’s fit and fo­cused

‘It’s all on the day - sim­ple as that’

Wicklow People - - SPORT - DANIEL GOR­MAN Sports Re­porter

CASEY O’BRIEN must play poker. He is about to guide his side into a county fi­nal for the first time since 2012 and has the op­por­tu­nity to top­ple their fiercest ri­vals in the process but he is far from a Christ­mas Eve child. He is com­posed, calm and most cer­tainly keep­ing his cards nailed to his chest.

Through­out our con­ver­sa­tion – and in­deed even hinted at in our chat with cap­tain Dean Healy – there is one re­oc­cur­ring theme; it’s just an­other game. The sports psy­chol­ogy is in full ef­fect in Wick­low Town – St. Pa­trick’s are here to play a game and not an oc­ca­sion.

For many of O’Brien’s panel, this is a first taste of the big time. It’ll be the first time they stand for the na­tional an­them and the first time they march around Aughrim but O’Brien doesn’t fore­see any is­sues with that.

‘I think they’ll be okay. At the end of the day, it is a county fi­nal but it is still just a game of foot­ball. For a lot of the lads there will be a lot of things go­ing with it but it is just an­other game of foot­ball. All these lads have played a lot of games of foot­ball since they were small kids and this is just an­other game. Once that ball is thrown in, the ‘county fi­nal’ as­pect won’t af­fect them at all.’

The fact that it will be Rathnew in the op­pos­ing chang­ing room also has lit­tle bear­ing on O’Brien’s mind.

‘It doesn’t mat­ter who you play in the fi­nal. It’s go­ing to be tough. It’s a lo­cal game and we’ve ev­ery­one liv­ing in the one par­ish but no mat­ter who you play in a county fi­nal; it’ll be the two best teams in the county play­ing in it.

That’s the case ev­ery year no mat­ter who is in it. The two best teams will play in the fi­nal ev­ery year and it’s go­ing to be hard against Rathnew with­out a doubt. They’re the king­pins of Wick­low foot­ball but if you win a county fi­nal then they are the team to beat - sim­ple as that.’

How does the Pat’s boss plan on stop­ping Harry Mur­phy’s men? ‘I’m not go­ing to tell you!’. As for how O’Brien guided Pat’s back to the promised land of the county fi­nal for the first time since 2012, it just took a few small in­gre­di­ents.

‘I wouldn’t say there’s any se­cret. We just worked hard and trained hard and there was a lot of com­mit­ment made by the whole panel. There was no real se­cret; we’ve just put our heads down and worked re­ally hard and it’s brought us to a county fi­nal. We have one more foot­ball match for us to try and come out on top.’

De­feat on Sun­day will see their hunt for Mi­ley ex­tend to a sev­enth year and would make it four de­feats in four fi­nals so shak­ing that mon­key off the back would be mon­u­men­tal for this Pat’s side.

‘Six years is a long time. There’s still a few lads around that were on that team but there’s an aw­ful lot of new lads com­ing through. We’ve a lot of lads there that are dy­ing to win a cham­pi­onship and hope­fully it’ll be this Sun­day.

‘We want to win. We’ve lost enough county fi­nals over the years. We don’t want to lose but I’m sure Rathnew won’t want to ei­ther.

‘There’s pres­sure on both teams. If you get to a fi­nal, there’ll al­ways be pres­sure on both teams. I firmly be­lieve these games - all cham­pi­onship games - take a life of their own when the ball is thrown in. It’ll be no dif­fer­ent on Sun­day; this game will take its own course once that ball is thrown in. Both teams are un­der pres­sure to win when­ever you get to a county fi­nal.’

Pat’s looked the more im­pres­sive in the semi-fi­nals as they cast Hol­ly­wood aside whilst Rathnew were left cling­ing on against AGB. Those matches, and what vic­tory on Sun­day could mean for his side’s long-term fu­ture, are not on O’Brien’s mind right now.

‘We were very good but I don’t think ei­ther semi-fi­nal will have any bear­ing come Sun­day. Out of ev­ery game that has been played in the cham­pi­onship this year; none of them will have any bear­ing on Sun­day. It’s all on the day - sim­ple as that.

‘I’m not think­ing about any other year at all. We won’t worry about where we’ll be next year; it’s just this year, this Sun­day. That’s all we’re wor­ried about’.

St Pat’s man­ager Casey O’Brien has brought a steel to his side that has been ab­sent for some time.

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