Brick has Kingdom well drilled for final

All-Ireland U-21 'B' Hurling Final: Kerry v Wicklow, Saturday September 9, Semple Stadium, 1pm

Timmy Sheehan

Ian Brick has done his time in the trenches with Kerry hurling and then some. Whatever happens early on Saturday afternoon the Kilmoyley man has done the state some service.

All the same it would be fitting reward for him to finish his journey with this bunch of young Kerry hurlers by winning an All Ireland title in Semple Stadium, the field of hurling dreams.

He began his involvement with most of this group when they were playing in the Under 14 grade and came up along with the grades with them - winning a couple of All Ireland minor titles along the way.

"I was involved with this group of lads when they were Under 14," he says.

"We won the 'B' side of the Tony Forristal. A lot of the newer lads have come through on to the panel, but it's great that a lot of them are still involved and the core of that age group are still playing, winning at Under 14, they won at minor and they would obviously be hoping to continue that with an Under 21 to finish it off at under age.

"It's been encouraging alright."

This competition being an All Ireland title and one which this squad have yet to win is hugely important not alone in terms of the silverware which is at stake, but the platform it provides for players to progress to the next level.

"Any time you are playing in any competition you want to win it obviously, regardless of what level it is. I suppose maybe at one time we had aspirations of playing in the 'A' Championship, but that's not feasible at the moment.

"I suppose we have an awful lot of work to do to get up the physicality of the game really. Look we found it difficult even to win this competition in the last few years. We are going to find it difficult to win on Saturday as well and all we can do is try and go out and beat Wicklow.

"The boys are familiar with each other, that's hugely important, because of the fact that we got so little time to prepare together as a team and as a unit and it's really important that they understand each other's play.

"We have had a couple of challenge games during the week and we could see in the second game how much our play is improving. The Wicklow game is going to throw new challenges at us, but the lads are really enthusiastic for it and they're keen to win that cup for the first time as well.

"I suppose what we would be hoping is that we would be bringing a lot of them forward into the Senior panel, and, to build a bit of momentum for next year again. For confidence it would really important for us as well."

Given the commitment of players to their clubs, in the height of the championship season, preparation hasn't been easy.

"It's been a little bit tougher this year than in other years, a couple of draws [in the championship] didn't help really. I suppose with some new managers coming in as well they are probably under more pressure at club level to try and get the most out of their own players.

"We have suffered I suppose as a result with a few injuries unfortunately, but look injuries are going to happen, it's part of the whole thing anyway, it's tough every year. Maybe in time, hopefully, it will be looked at again, because we feel that when players come playing with the county they gain in confidence from it.

"Even you see there Tomás O'Connor is absolutely flying at the moment and maybe just a change of scenery for younger players especially can add to their game."

The squad will be almost back at full strength for the final, and, is boosted with the inclusion of players with experience at senior level.

"A couple are back from injury as well as having Daniel Carroll and Jack Goulding back as well. Robert Collins is making a good recovery, also players who carried injuries into those two games they will be coming good as well, so, hopefully over the next week we will have more or less a full strength panel to pick from.

"Five of our starting forwards last week have played Senior with the county at some stage during the year which is massive. It gives those players plenty of confidence. Maybe, there's an extra bit of pressure put on themselves, the fact that they are playing Senior, but, it's that experience that they have gained which is massive for them.

"But, what we have now is a strong panel, so, regardless of whether they play Senior with the county or not, we can bring on players who, we think, will be every bit as good."

Having the Senior Manager Fintan O Connor alongside as part of the team has been beneficial.

"Fintan has been brilliant all year with the seniors and I have learned an awful lot from him as well. It's just a different voice, different ideas. He has obviously been at the top level with Waterford as well, the lads really respond to him at training, it's great depending on the numbers we have at training he can think on his feet and do appropriate drills to suit who is there and they have really responded to him."

One goal in two games won't be of any concern going into the weekend's encounter with all of the focus being on the opposition who are capable of providing a formidable challenge.

"Look, when you are putting up over twenty points you would have to be delighted with that. If you aren't conceding any goals, that would be a big part of any teams game. The other side we would have to look at is Wicklow who have done very well against Roscommon and Kildare, they were down in both games, by five points, and, seven points and they rallied having struggled early on.

"They kept going to the final whistle, so, that will be our focus, knowing that they are a determined side as well, we will be watching that more than worrying about scoring goals."


Promoted Links

Promoted Links