Wicklow hurling manager says defeat to Donegal “will serve as reality check”

‘That competition is gone now. We failed at the semi-final stage. We have to push on now and win what our main goal is and that is the Nicky Rackard’

Wicklow selectors Billy Cuddihy and Graham Keogh with Casey O'Brien.

Andrew RyanWicklow People

CASEY O’BRIEN was nearly lost for words after Wicklow spurned a chance to make the Division 2B hurling league final with a disappointing defeat to Donegal.

Less than two weeks after the St. Pat’s man’s charges routed the Tir Chonaill in Letterkenny to seal passage to the semi-finals, Wicklow suffered a dramatic reversal of fortunes with a 0-17 to 0-16 loss in Aughrim.

Speaking afterwards, O’Brien expressed his disappointment at the outcome and admitted his side did not show up on the day.

“It was obviously a tight game at the end but just very disappointed we didn’t really show up in the first half. We left ourselves with too much to do and there is not much I can say, to tell you the truth,” he said.

“We were up for it up in Donegal. Obviously, Donegal came and they were hurt from the first day and they came with a good game plan. Maybe there was a wee bit of complacency. Maybe we were a bit tired. I am not sure. Those are things we have to look at it.

“I think we gave away a few silly frees during the game. That hurt us and we also missed a few chances ourselves, especially in the last five minutes. I think we had five wides in a row to tie the game.”

Donegal will go on to meet Meath in the league final, while Wicklow will lick their wounds and refocus on the Nickey Rackard Cup, which gets underway on April 15 with the Garden hosting Louth in their first game.

And O’Brien challenged his team to bounce back from Saturday and go all the way towards returning to the Christy Ring just one year after their unfortunate relegation from the third tier of the hurling championship.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think we performed well yet we still only lost by a point and look it, it is probably a reality check for both players and management that this Nicky Rackard is going to be hard won.

“At the start of the year, people were saying for us to stay up would be an achievement.

“Us as a management team, we wanted to get to the league final.

“Whether we won it or not is another story, but we wanted to get to a league final and we didn’t.

“That competition is gone now. We failed at the semi-final stage. We have to push on now and win what our main goal is and that is the Nicky Rackard.

“We are home to Louth, we have two tricky away matches up north - no matter what team you go up to in the north, it is hard to beat – in Fermanagh and Armagh, and then we have a home game against Roscommon, who are going to be difficult, and then the last game against Donegal away.

“Our goal is to be in the Nicky Rackard final, it is as simple as that.”