O’Brien praises players’ work rate

DCU hurling boss Paul O’Brien was left with mixed emotions following his side’s four-point loss to NUIG in their first game in Group D of the Fitzgibbon Cup.

O’Brien said that “I was disappointed with the result obviously, because we went down to Galway for a victory. Overall though, I thought the workrate of the players was good throughout and as a team, we went fairly well.”

DCU started excellently and were ahead 2-3 to 0-5 midway through the first half, thanks largely to two goals from Mark Aylward. The Ballyhale Shamrocks forward was full of vigour when the sliotar reached him, but DCU found it hard to get enough possession his way and the accomplished display of NUIG’s centre-back Conor Cleary was a contributing factor in this.

“We used him as well as we could during the game, but it was difficult for the lads to get the ball into him at times,” said O’Brien. “But I think when you get the ball into your full-forward seven or eight times during a game, you’re not doing too badly.”

A hamstring injury ruled five time Liam McCarthy Cup winner Richie Hogan out of yesterday’s game. “Missing a player of that calibre was always going to be a massive loss, even to a side like Kilkenny,” O’Brien said.

“It was unfortunate, but I felt we had enough work done as a team and a panel to not let Richie’s absence phase us,” he continued. The DCU manager is unsure if Hogan will be fit for Tuesday’s all important tie with DIT, for whom double All-Star Liam Rushe is the star turn.

DCU lost out to their city rivals 3-24 to 2-15 at the end of October in the first round of the Division One Hurling League.

Paul O’Brien’s men must beat DIT by three points or more to make it out of their group and into the quarter finals. “We will work on the things we need to improve on from now until Tuesday, and make sure we are in a position to give a performance,” he finished.

The match is scheduled for 2.30 pm at DCU’s home venue St. Clare’s.

Mark Walsh

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