Man­ager aim­ing to con­tinue progress

GAELIC GAMES MARK KENNEDY TALKS TO MICK O’DWYER

Bray People - - Sports -

MICK O’DWYER is about to start his third year as man­ager of Wick­low’s county foot­ballers.

His first two years at the helm saw Wick­low make steady progress on the foot­ball front, winning the Tommy Mur­phy Cup in his first year and winning their first cham­pi­onship game in Croke Park in his sec­ond year.

Not sur­pris­ingly, there­fore, G.A.A. bosses in the county were anx­ious to se­cure his con­tin­ued ser­vices as man­ager when his two year term ended in the sum­mer.

G.A.A. fans through­out the county as well as the play­ers have taken the Kerry mae­stro to their hearts since his ar­rival and his pres­ence has in­jected a new buzz and ex­cite­ment in the foot­ball scene in the Gar­den County.

Un­der new dic­tats from Croke Park, how­ever, he will not be able to com­mence train­ing ses­sions with his play­ers un­til the new year but in the mean­time he is hop­ing to get in a few trial games for his team.

‘That’s about as much as we can do un­til the New Year’ he says. ‘We will be looking at new play­ers around the county and we will cer­tainly be bring­ing in some new blood,’ he says. ‘We have quite a few in mind and, now that that the county cham­pi­onships are over, we’ll be mak­ing de­ci­sions on that front.’

‘This is our third year but I do not say that it is time to de­liver big time. There has been con­stant im­prove­ment since I came here. When the cham­pi­onship comes around, we will be hop­ing to do even bet­ter than this year. That’s what it’s all about, keep­ing the mo­men­tum there and mov­ing on.

‘In 2008 we had a sat­is­fy­ing year and with a bit of luck we could have beaten Laois. As you know, they only beat us by two points and James Stafford hit the cross­bar and had that shot been a cou­ple of inches lower we would have won that game.

‘We have got a good panel of play­ers, we have a good chance. We hope to get a few new play­ers from this year’s cham­pi­onship and that will make a dif­fer­ence. We need a few fresh faces.

Asked about his hopes and am­bi­tions for 2009, Micko had this to say:

O’Byrne Cup in Jan­uary: ‘We will play in those games and in­tro­duce a few new play­ers and see if they are good enough. It will be a good test­ing ground.

League (Fe­bru­ary to April): ‘We would hope to do pretty well in the league but the cham­pi­onship is the big thing at the end of the day. And that’s what we’ll be build­ing to all the way through.

‘It’s true we would like to get out of the base­ment divi­sion four. But some of the teams in divi­sion four - Sligo were Con­nacht cham­pi­ons a few years ago - are good qual­ity teams, so I don’t think it makes much dif­fer­ence where you are in the league.

‘It’s all about build­ing a team for the cham­pi­onship. And we will be do­ing that through­out both com­pe­ti­tions - the O’Byrne Cup and league.

Le­in­ster cham­pi­onship: ‘ We won one cham­pi­onship game this year and we would be hop­ing to win at least two matches next year. And hope­fully get to a Le­in­ster fi­nal.

‘We were not too far off a Le­in­ster fi­nal this year. If we had got­ten over Laois, we would have had a right crack at Wex- ford and any­thing might have hap­pened. We could have been in a Le­in­ster fi­nal. With a bit of luck, we could get there.’

All-Ire­land Qual­i­fiers: Mick O’Dwyer has wel­comed the fact that divi­sion four teams will once again par­tic­i­pate in the All-Ire­land qual­i­fiers in 2009.

Prob­a­bly Croke Park’s sever­est critic over their ex­clu­sion in the first place, Micko said: ‘Sure it’s go­ing to be great that we are back in the qual­i­fiers again. It’s a pity we did not have it this year; but that’s wa­ter un­der the bridge.

‘It’s com­ing back next year and that is good. We are not con­sid­er­ing qual­i­fiers at this stage. We want to win in Le­in­ster first. And if there are to be qual­i­fiers, we would be hop­ing to do well.

Tommy Mur­phy Cup: ‘The first year of this com­pe­ti­tion was great, there’s no doubt about that. It built a team for us and helped us win in Croke Park which was great.

‘But it served no pur­pose at the end of the day. Winning or los­ing you were go­ing nowhere at the end of it.

‘Un­til we won it, there was a trip to the United States and then they cut that out com­pletely.

‘They gave the county €20,000 or some­thing - it would hardly take you across the road. There was no in­cen­tive for peo­ple to do well in it, to be hon­est.

‘If the win­ners of the Tommy Mur­phy Cup were al­lowed in to the cham­pi­onship through a back­door sys­tem, it would have been a great com­pe­ti­tion.

‘Maybe, now that that the back door is there, the Tommy Mur­phy Cup is some­thing that could be in­tro­duced again.’

Mick O’Dwyer cel­e­brates Wick­low’s cham­pi­onship win over Kil­dare in Croke Park last May.

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