Foot­ballers to kick off the year against Car­low

O’Byrne Cup match against neigh­bours in Bless­ing­ton on Sun­day

Bray People - - Sports - Mark KENNEDY

WICK­LOW’S FOOT­BALLERS and hurlers will see action early in 2009 as the O’Byrne Cup and Ke­hoe Cup com­pe­ti­tions kick-off the new sea­son.

Mick O’Dwyer’s foot­ballers will be first into the fray when they take the field on Sun­day next at Bless­ing­ton where they will take on neigh­bours Car­low in the open­ing round of matches in the O’Byrne Cup.

Then the fol­low­ing week­end, on Jan­uary 11, the foot­ballers will be joined by the county hurlers who have their first match in the Ke­hoe Cup against Trin­ity Col­lege.

Both th­ese com­pe­ti­tions are ap­pe­tis­ers for county teams as they shape up and sharpen up for the se­ri­ous action of the league com­pe­ti­tions which start in Fe­bru­ary.

Winning the O’Byrne Cup com­pe­ti­tion is not a pri­or­ity ob­jec­tive of Mick O’Dwyer who judges his year by how well his team per­forms in the cham­pi­onship which he sees as the ul­ti­mate test and goal for all coun­ties.

How­ever, a good run in the O’Byrne Cup would in­stil the Wick­low foot­ballers with a lot of con­fi­dence as they face into the na­tional foot­ball leagues where they would not be averse to gain­ing pro­mo­tion from the base­ment divi­sion four in 2009.

The fact that Wick­low will be fac­ing Thomas Walsh’s for­mer team Car­low – that’s be­fore he switched his al­le­giance to Wick­low – will add some ex­tra spice and edge to Sun­day’s joust and one can be sure that Car­low will be go­ing all out to ex­act some mea­sure of ret­ri­bu­tion for the loss of their for­mer mid­field star.

Wick­low will be without Thomas Walsh’s reg­u­lar mid­field part­ner James Stafford who has headed off to Aus­tralia with Kil­te­gan’s county man Derek Daly and their ab­sence will be a big blow to the team and to Mick O’Dwyer as he strives to build on the mo­men­tum and self-be­lief he has in­stilled in the Wick­low team over the last two sea­sons.

There­fore the O’Byrne Cup will be a valu­able test­ing ground and train­ing ground for blood­ing new play- ers for the league in the white heat of com­pet­i­tive bat­tle, a most im­por­tant ex­er­cise this year con­sid­er­ing that Croke Park banned any preChrist­mas train­ing for county teams.

Win or lose on Sun­day, Wick­low’s foot­ballers will see fur­ther action the fol­low­ing Sun­day. Should they win, they will have a sec­ond round match in the O’Byrne Cup, while should they lose they will have a match in the sub­sidiary O’Byrne Cup shield com­pe­ti­tion in­stead.

A win or two in ei­ther com­pe­ti­tion will keep Wick­low in com­pet­i­tive action right up to the start of the league, thereby en­hanc­ing their chances of get­ting off to a good start in divi­sion four.

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