By Annie Driver
Warwickshire manager Chris Brough says the Exiles must “keep everyone on the pitch” if they are to have any chance of retaining their Div 2B league status.
The Exiles picked up multiple yellow cards and a crucial red card during their 5-19 to 0-1 defeat to Kildare at Páirc na hÉireann on Saturday.
The sending off of full back Anthony Hands before half-time left Warwickshire to play out the remainder of Saturday’s Round 2 game with just 14-men, against an already rampant Kildare.
“We need to keep discipline in games to cut down on frees and keep everyone on the pitch,” Brough told the Irish World.
“It was hard enough to play Kildare with a full complement – they are a serious outfit.”
It’s a great day for a game of Hurling, take look at how both teams line out for Round 2 of AHL Div 2B
🕐 throw in 2pm at the Páirc
Best of luck lads @theirishworld @IrishPostSport @BPCGAA pic.twitter.com/7WeS5WeaNB
— Official Warwickshire GAA (@warwickshireclg) February 1, 2020
Warwickshire rely heavily on their league games to prepare for championship, but do not have the advantage of playing matches before the league begins.
“We’ve a lot of progress to make in regard to our touch and fitness, which will improve as we go through the league. Our ultimate aim is the Nicky Rackard,” added Brough.
Kildare compete in the Christy Ring alongside fellow Div 2B rivals London, Down, Derry and Roscommon.
“We don’t have the luxury of playing challenges and it’s hard to ask the lads to perform to their best in the league when it’s essentially our pre-season,” he said.
Warwickshire showed some potential in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, conceding only two points, but they did not have the stamina or fitness to keep up with the powerful White Lilies.
“Moving towards the Down game (15 February) we need to remain positive, make small gains in terms of fitness and hurling, and ensure all lads get game time to improve,” said Brough, who is in his second year as manager.
Although last Saturday’s defeat was just their second of the campaign, it already leaves their Div 2B status in serious doubt – they only survived last year thanks to a brilliant relegation play-off win over Donegal.
Brough says they remain determined to stay up.
“Although Division 2B is a challenge, we will do everything we can to stay in the division, as it is vital for a small county like Warwickshire to play at the highest level possible,” he said.