David determined to defend crown

David Kelly is the Athleague hurling team manager in 2007. He acknowledges himself that he has had a hard act to follow because he took over from the all-conquering David McConn who won last year’s title with Athleague and who went on to mastermind the winning of three major trophies for Roscommon hurling this year.   David was delighted with the form shown by his charges in winning well against Oran in the semi-final replay. ‘We are thrilled to be back in the final. We hurled well against Oran and we are very optimistic about Sunday’s final against Pearses’ he said.    David says that Athleague have done extremely to have secured a place in another final because they have lost many senior players from last year’s winning team. ‘We have lost five players who started in last year’s county final and the younger players that we have on the panel have really stepped up to the mark’ he went on.   David says that Athleague really needed the outings against Oran as they were a little rusty after a long break. ‘We were not sharp after the five week lay-off and it showed the first day against Oran. We were lucky enough to survive but we played well in the replay so that should stand to us next Sunday’ he says.   David Kelly says that he has the height of respect for Pearses. ‘They are an excellent team and have proved that all year, but it’s as simple as this – if we play the way we are capable of playing, we have the beating of them’ he says.    He says he has been thrilled with the support he has received since his appointment as manager of the team at the start of the year.    ‘David McConn was a hard act to follow but the players have been fantastic and they have really rowed in behind me and we have loads of young players coming on so that is great for the future’.    David finally paid tribute to the role played all year by his own ‘Captain Fantastic’ Mervyn Connaughton. ‘He has been unbelievable. He is probably the best  hurler in the county and I know that we would be lost without him. He inspires everyone connected wit the team. I can’t speak highly enough about his contribution’ he says.    ‘This is a big final for us – we would dearly love to win two titles in a row for our supporters and sponsors and we will be going flat out to do it’ he concluded.