Wicklow fall just short in bid to retain Tommy Murphy Cup
GAELIC GAMES PETER KEOGH LOOKS BACK ON WICKLOW’S YEAR IN INTER-COUNTY FOOTBALL
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TOMMY MURPHY CUP
Disappointment in the camp after the exit from the championship was such that even some of the mentors doubted that the players could be lifted in time to defend the Murphy Cup.
When Micko called his management team together in the aftermath of that defeat it was decided that they would go for the same format as in 2007 for the Murphy Cup
He would step aside and Arthur would take over the manager’s bib.
The players bought into the deal and the Murphy Cup show was back on the road.
A good win over Waterford – 0-18 to 0-12 – in the first round in Aughrim got the team off to the right start. John McGrath was back on the team after a long lay-off; Derek Daly, Rory Nolan and Ciarán Walshe also got starting positions.
Tony Hannon and Seánie Furlong got 0-4 each; Leighton Glynn, now in the half-back line 0-3; Ciarán Walshe 0-2; John McGrath, Dara O hAnnaidh, Derek Daly, Thomas Walsh and Rory Nolan 0-1.
The luck of the draw stayed with us and we had Leitrim at home in Aughrim in the semi-final - a good hard fought match which we won by 0-15 to 0-12. In fact that will have to go down as one of Wicklow’s better performances
Tony Hannon was the top scorer with 0-8; Leighton Glynn 0-3; Seánie Furlong and Ciarán Walshe 0-2.
Arthur was pleased to be leading his troops back to Croke Park for another showdown with Antrim and another chance to lift the Murphy Cup.
However, it all went wrong on the day. The defeat in 2007 still rankled in Antrim hearts.
They were fired-up as never before – and this time it was the men from the Glens that got the breaks.
Wicklow got off to a flying start and full-forward Seánie Furlong had the ball in the Antrim net in the first attack. After 15 minutes the holders were leading by 1-5 to 0-4 and looking good. Then in the second quarter it all started to go wrong. A flying Antrim full-forward line had the Wicklow defence stretched to the limit.
All three banged home goals in turn but coming up to half-time Leighton Glynn steadied Wicklow again with two good points to leave the half-time score – 3-6 to 1-9 – a manageable enough three-point deficit.
Wicklow needed early scores in the second-half but they did not come but when Tony Hannon pointed two frees the deficit was down to a single point.
Again we missed chances and it was the more hungry Antrim team that went on to seal victory. It was sweet revenge for their late defeat in ’07.
The team that lined out in the final was: Mervyn Travers (AGB), Ciarán Hyland (AGB), Damien Power (Rath- new), Alan Byrne (Annacurra); Rory Nolan (Baltinglass), Dara O hAnnaidh (Bray Emmets), Leighton Glynn ( 0-3, Rathnew); James Stafford (Rathnew), Thomas Walsh (0-1, Bray Emmets); John McGrath (Baltinglass), Tony Hannon (0-6, Hollywood); Paul Earls (0-1, St. Pat’s); Ciarán Walshe (0-2, Baltinglass), Seánie Furlong ( 1-2, Kiltegan), Derek Daly (Kiltegan). Subs. – Paddy Dalton (Coolkenno) for A. Byrne; Darren Hayden (Eire Og) for McGrath.
The other players on the panel were: Billy Norman, Dean Odlum, Pádraig Higgins, Anthony McLoughlin, JP Dalton, Seán O’Neill, Niall Gaffney, Pat O’Sullivan and Brian McGrath.
Kevin 0’Brien was in charge of the Junior football team with Jimmy Whittle and Gerry Farrell as his selectors.
The team took part in the Leinster Junior Football Championship and in the Leinster Junior Shield.
In the championship Kevin got his team off to a good start with a win over Kilkenny in Nowlan Park. The final score was Wicklow 4-9, Kilkenny 1-8.
Scorers: Seán O’Brien 3-1; Jonathan Daniels 1-0; Stephen Hurley 0-3; Colm Kenny, Garry Duffy, Anthony Furlong, Nicky Mernagh, and Phillip Healy 0-1 each
In the semi-final Wicklow were beaten by Meath in Aughrim – 1-15 to 1-5.
Scorers: Jonathan Daniels 1-2; Darren Hayden, Phillip Healy and Jason Bolger 0-1 each.
The Wicklow team: Stephen Nolan (Tinahely); Pádraig Higgins ( St. Pat’s), Anthony McLoughlin (Blessington), Thomas Burke (Hollywood); Seánie O’Neill (Ballymanus), Brian Hickey (Tinahely), Jason Bolger (Stratford); Pat Sullivan (Hollywood), Garry Duffy ( St. Pat’s); Stephen Hurley (AGB), Niall Gaffney (Bray Emmets), Darren Hayden (Eire Og); Colm Kenny (Tinahely), Seán 0’Brien (Baltinglass), Jonathan Daniels (Blessington). Subs. – Brian McGrath (Kilmacud Crokes) for Hickey; Phillip Healy (AGB) for Gaffney; Ciarán Jones (Kilbride) for Hurley.
Other players on the panel included Stevie Carty (Dunlavin), Eoin Burke (Hollywood) and Alan Clarke (Rathnew).
LEINSTER JUNIOR FOOTBALL SHIELD
Wicklow played four matches in the Junior Football Shield; they beat Kilkenny at Baltinglass – 1-13 to 0-8; lost to Kildare in Athy - 0-8 to 2-6 - and beat Meath in Moorefield – 1-11 to 1-10 - to qualify for the semi-final.
Wicklow were at home to Kildare in the semi-final in Avondale but lost by 0-10 to 1-12.
The team that played in the semifinal was: Stephen Nolan; Eoin Burke, Brian Hickey, Alan Clarke; Thomas Burke, Brian McGrath, Rory Nolan (Baltinglass); Brian Whelan (Baltinglass), Anthony McLoughlin; Colm Kenny, Seán O’Brien, Stephen Hurley; Ciarán Walshe ( Baltinglass),Nicky Mernagh, Jonathan Daniels. Subs. – Anthony Furlong, Ciarán Jones and Stevie Carty.
Others to play in the Shield included Pat Donohue (Kilbride), Pat Egan (AGB), Phillip Healy; Michael Stapleton (Ballymanus); Stephen King (Enniskerry); Alan Heatley (Dunlavin).
U-21 FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
Phillip McGillycuddy was the manager of the U-21 football squad with Joe McDonald, and Michael O’Toole as selectors and Dave McBride as kit manager.
The work-rate of this management team as they went through the process of sorting out a big panel of players was colossal. They had trials and practice matches all over the county, knowing that the luck of the draw had not favoured them.
They drew the reigning champions and hot favourites Laois away in the first round so it was essential that they get it right on the day.
In the first round match, played in Portlaoise it went better than even Phillip had hoped for. Although they were reduced to 14 players after only seven minutes they totally outplayed the home side for the hour.
After leading by 0-7 to 0-1 at halftime they went on to win by 1-11 to 0-3 in the end. Two big talking points after the match – one – when had a Laois team been held to a score of 0-3 before. More to the point from a Wicklow point of view – could Phillip get young feet back on the ground in time to take on Wexford in the quarter-final?
The answer, as the photographer once said – was in the negative.
The team never got going with the same fluency in Aughrim; Wexford hit them with an early goal and went in leading by 1-6 to 0-4 at half-time.
Wicklow did improve in the second-half and clawed their way back but could not break through for the goal they needed to save the day.
Team: Billy Norman (Eire Og); Pádraig Higgins (St. Pat’s), Anthony McLoughlin (Blessington), Ronan Keddy (Kilcoole); Seánie O’Neill (Ballymanus), Rory Finn (Kiltegan), Rory Nolan (Baltinglass); Cathal McNicholas (Newtown), Gavin Murray (Blessington), John McGrath (Baltinglass). Paddy Byrne (Ballymanus), Darren Hayden (Eire Og); Ciarán Walshe (Baltinglass), Seánie Furlong (Kiltegan), Donie Fitzgerald (Ashford). Subs used - Mikie Browne (Bray Emmets), Willie Dillon (Tinahely), Seán O’Brien (Baltinglass). Others - Seán Metcalfe (Dunlavin), Harry Mangan (Donard/Glen), Niall Gafney (Bray Emmets), all played against Laois; Robert Mulryan (Hollywood), Rory Breslin (Bray Emmets), Damien D’arcy (Tinahely), Craig O’Neill (Kilmacanogue), Paul Hogan (Tinahely).
Hugh Kenny was appointed manager of the Minor football team with Kevin Byrne, and Jimmy Callaghan as his selectors.
Without any doubt no Wicklow team ever went through as searching a preparation for a championship. They played practices in every one of the four provinces, and against most of the top teams.
It all looked to be paying off when they beat a fancied Offaly team by a ten-point margin – 3-11 to 1-7 – in the opening round in Aughrim.
The Wicklow boys were on fire that day; Paul Cunningham and Dean Siney ran through the Offaly defence in the first-half, lashing in 37 to give Wicklow a lead of 3-7 to 13 at half-time.
While they slackened off in the second-half they still held on to that ten-point advantage to the end.
Just like the U-21side this team were unable to find the same form when they took on Wexford in the second round at Aughrim. And again the game took on the same pattern.
Wexford lashed home an early goal and then held on to that advantage to the end – winning by 1-8 to 0-8.
Team: Michael Carey (AGB); Conor Power (Bray Emmets), Lorcan Smullen (St. Pat’s), Paul McLoughlin (Blessington); Mark Kenny (Ballymanus), Robert Lambert ( Aughrim), Conor Foley (Baltinglass); Jordan Egan (Bray Emmets), Brian Walsh (Tinahely); Steven Dillon (Tinahely), Kevin Murphy (Baltinglass), PJ Mulhall (Coolboy); Colum Rowden (Ballinacor), Paul Cunninghan (Bray Emmets), Dean Siney (Blessington). Subs used – Niall Curran (Donard/Glen), Ger Byrne (Ballinacor), Curtis Geraghty (Blessington), Oisin Doyle (Aughrim), Joe Glennon (Hollywood). Niall Earls (St. Pat’s). Others - James Byrne (Ballinacor); Dermot Daly (Donard/Glen), Willie Doyle (Coolkenno), Mark Rigley (Dunlavin), Alan Kelly (Blessington).
Wicklow’s Ciarán Walsh is tackled by Justin Crozier of Antrim during the Tommy Murphy Cup final.