Footballers to kick off the year against Carlow
O’Byrne Cup match against neighbours in Blessington on Sunday
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.