Michael O'Regan: 'Sky has raised awareness of the game in England'
By William Dunne
Warwickshire’s hurlers sailed through the group stages of the Lory Meagher Cup registering five wins on the bounce.
They’ll enter this Saturday’s decider against Leitrim as favourites and with a bona fide belief that they can win the Cup for the first time since 2013.
The following year after the their last triumph Sky Sports began to broadcast GAA and, according to Warwickshire defender Michael O’Regan, that has raised the profile of the games in England.
O'Regan moved over to the UK in 2014 and now finds there's a lot more recognition of the game now than when he first arrived.
“Yeah, I do actually”, said O’Regan when asked whether the Sky deal has had an impact in England.
“Now that anyone asks me what am I playing, and I say hurling, they actually know what it is. Before you'd have to go and give a big spiel about it being with a stick and all this kind of stuff.
“I think a lot people have probably glanced at it on Sky Sports or flicked through it. I think it's definitely raising awareness of the game.”
Warwickshire have been inspired in this campaign by former Antrim star, Liam Watson, who racked up 5-27 in their opening four group games as qualification for Saturday’s Final was secured.
He can devastate a team within a few minutes
O’Regan says that not only is his scoring prowess of huge benefit to the team but also the manner in which Watson goes about training and his demeanor with fellow teammates.
“Even just kind of listening to him and him giving you a few tips about how to bring your game on. He's played at a higher level than most of us have, it's good to have someone to bring you on a bit.
"He can devastate a team within a few minutes. He's scored some great goals and he's great on the frees for us as well. Hopefully he's on form at the weekend.”
28-year-old corner-back Regan admits Warwickshire are favourites with good reason going into this match having previously beaten Leitrim in the competition, but the Cork native is still wary of the challenge the Connacht side will pose.
“I suppose we are favourites”, he said. “But, you know, I think Leitrim are one of the few teams we've beaten by seven, eight points.
“We beat most teams by double scores. They were tough opposition, we were still drawing with them with 15 minutes left in our Championship game.
“You're not going to get an easy final either. We're expecting a tough battle, just keep the heads right.”