Donegal Hurlers made it three wins from three yesterday but manager Mickey McCann is still keeping one eye on other competitions.
Donegal were cruising at half time with a 2-7 to 0-3 lead but Wicklow came back into the game quickly in the second half, getting within 2 points.
McCann said: “We played some great hurling in the first half and defended very well to be 10 or 11 points up at half time.
“But then we lost Jack O’Loughlin and Sean McVeigh so we had to go back to the drawing board at half time.
“We coughed up two soft goals and it gave them a lifeline but in the last 10 minutes we found our foot again and we finished the game strongly.
“They scored 2-2 without reply and had all the momentum but we got our hands around the ball again and we won a few frees to keep the score ticking over. We showed great character to see it out and come away with a win away from home.”
Donegal were without Declan Coulter who was suspended, while Richie Ryan and Michael Donoghue didn’t travel due to injury.
To then lose O’Loughlin and McVeigh, Donegal were without 5 usual starters going into the second half.
The injuries however, did open up opportunities to Burt’s Conor Gartland and St. Eunan’s man Dáire O’Maoileidigh, who made their first starts, while Oisin Marley of Setanta came on as a sub.
McCann has been assessing the players with knocks and praised the young players coming in to take their chance.
“We feel like we have strength in depth and we’re trying to feed these young boys in and give them game time and if you can do that and get away with a victory it’s great.
“We have to see how costly it is for Jack, his league could possibly be over, Sean might need an x-ray.
“Richie is out for the rest of the league, possibly even the Championship.
“We’ve had three good wins but it’s been costly for us injury wise but that’s just the way hurling is.”
Richie Ryan had scored an impressive 2-14 in the opening two wins, but Davin Flynn took over free taking duties, and McCann was relieved to have the Setanta man take over the task with ease.
“So clinical, in possession he always gets something out of it for you, either a free or a score. It was very important for us that frees we’re going over the bar especially when the game was so tight.”
Donegal are looking likely to be in at least a semi-final, with promotion to Division 2A looking a possibility, but McCann is content having already achieved their goal which was to stay in the division.
He also is looking ahead to the Nicky Rackard Cup and the Championship and does not want to risk players picking up any more injuries in the league.
“We have a chance of making the league final but would give them no week off before the start of the Nicky Rackard Cup and with injuries, it will be hard to keep the squad fit.
“We could possibly have the semi-final already and if you have that and the final you’ve no break at all.
“Anybody carrying knocks and injuries, we’re in the way of thinking we’re going to get them right for the Championship.
“Our aim at the start of the season was to maintain our status in Division 2B and we’ve done that. We’ll field as strong as we can against Derry but anyone that’s struggling we’ll not be risking.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, Donegal face Derry at O’Donnell Park on Sunday 6th March with both teams 100% records at stake.
McCann said: “Derry are pushing to get to 2A and they’re probably the strongest team in the competition with the Slaughtneil contingent back.
“They are well able to compete in 2A but we’re well able to compete with them. There’s fine margins and it would be lovely to get up there for a year but we’re in a building process.”