Wicklow to meet Kildare in Tullamore
Published 10/04/2013 | 05:44
Allianz NHL Division 2A Relegation play-off
Wicklow v. Kildare
A hectic weekend ahead on the hurling front with Casey O'Brien's county team fixed to play Kildare in a relegation play off in Division 2A of the NHL. That is fixed for Sunday in Tullamore at 2pm.
However the venue is the least of our troubles at this moment in time. Also on the fixture list for the Saturday are three quarter-finals of the Leinster Club HL and they would involve quite a number of key players from Casey O'Brien's panel.
Leinster Council could well say that this league was intended to provide matches for players nor required by the county.
That was what was decided last year when Bray Emmets had to play a final without three players required by Casey O'Brien - but they still won the cup.
Anyway Casey will need all his players fresh and well as he takes on old rivals Kildare.
So what does the St Pat's clubman think of their chances against the Lilywhites?
"We beat them in the league in Croke Park but I would not read too much into that," he said, "there is never much between the sides - a point or two either way and that applies whether the game is in Wicklow or Kildare. We are nearly back to full strength at present, John Henderson is one of our big worries; he is going for a scan on a bad arm injury so I hardly think he will make it. Geoffrey Bermingham is carrying an injury but I think he could be available. Graham Keogh and Enan Glynn are definitely out but on the credit side Eamonn Kearns is back to full fitness and flying. Ronan Keddy is also coming on and playing well; 'Chester' has given us options in defence and definitely is a big bonus to the team," he added.
Casey freely admitted that picking the team is now becoming more difficult but added that is a good complaint.
He also agreed that the Christy Ring Cup was the top priority this year but holding on to the hard won status would be a nice bonus.
Having a look at a possible line out it looks as if Stephen Kelly is now established at full back with Billy Cuddy looking more comfortable in the corner.
The other position is wide open. Peter Keane is maturing nicely while, according to Casey, Jim Connors is now coming back to top form while Robert Byrne or Geoffrey Bermingham cannot be ruled out.
The manager is also happy with how Liam Kennedy is playing at centre back; Gary Byrne is staking a strong claim for a wing back position while Eugene Dunne, Robert Byrne and whoever loses in the corner may have to battle it out for the other place.
Brian Osborne is rapidly establishing himself as Eamon Kearns's partner at midfield. The selectors look to have settled for Ronan Keddy as the leader of the attack but where they will play their key man Bosco is anyone's guess.
Andy O'Brien and Wayne O'Gorman look to be certain starters and that leaves only two positions to fill. The hard working Shane Byrne and goal grabber Mikie Lee are the men in possession but the pacy Christy Moorhouse can't be ruled out.
Then there are youngsters like Gavin Weir and Daniel Staunton waiting in the wings. Yes Casey and his selectors have problems, but they are of a very positive nature.
A Wicklow win - just what the doctor ordered.
Leinster Club Hurling League quarter-finals
Eire Og v. Southern Gaels (Westmeath)
Kilcoole v.Cullion (Westmeath)
Avondale v. Killurin (Offaly)
Wicklow clubs certainly got the rub of the green when the draw was made for the quarter-finals of the Leinster Club Hurling League.
All three Wicklow teams that qualified for that stage got home venues and while by rule they must play without their county players, then home venue could be a big help.
St Patrick's from Wicklow Town are, of course, through to the semi-finals which are fixed for Saturday April 27.