Three county teams in action at week­end


Bray People - - Sport - Peter KEOGH


Wick­low take on Water­ford in the sec­ond round of the NFL at Aughrim on Satur­day.

Taken at face value this should be an eas­ier task than a trip to Belfast. How­ever, this is a fix­ture fraught with dan­ger.

Water­ford are not among the big guns but al­most ev­ery year since John Keily took over as man­ager he pro­duced one shock re­sult - and gen­er­ally it in an away match.

Last year he bowled over Antrim in Case­ment Park when they were within touch­ing dis­tance of pro­mo­tion.

Three years ago his side beat Ca­van in Br­effni Park when the Ul­ster men needed only a draw to gain pro­mo­tion.

So the mode has to be cau­tion.

Micko had prob­lems last week as he set out for Belfast. This week the same prob­lems are still there, ex­cept that there are new ones to add in.

For starters new full-back Stephen Kelly got what ap­peared to be a bad enough an­kle in­jury and is likely to be out for some time. John McGrath got a sec­ond yel­low card and could have to serve a two-week ban

Micko used four U-21 play­ers - Dar­ren Hay­den, Ciarán Wal­she, Dean Siney and An­thony McLough­lin last week and with the match against Long­ford com­ing up the next day Phillip McGilly­cuddy will be anx­ious to see them rested on Satur­day.

Micko used 21 play­ers in Belfast and had only three more fit out­field play­ers left plus goal­keeper Billy Nor­man.

So Mick McLough­lin who has just re­turned to train­ing; Don Jack­man who has just been re­called to the panel and Frank Clune are all he has left to fall back on.

All three are due to get a trial shortly so Satur­day may be their bap­tism of fire.

One way or an­other this is a match that Micko will not be tak­ing lightly and he will be looking for a big step up in per­for­mance from a few of his play­ers.

He will also be hop­ing for a good turnout of fol­low­ers to cheer on the team on their first ap­pear­ance of the year on Aughrim soil.


New hurl­ing man­ager Michael Phe­lan will have his first out­ing in charge of the Wick­low hurlers when they take on Ar­magh in the open­ing round of the new hurl­ing league at Ark­low on Sun­day.

The Or­chard County are only re­cently back in tier two of the hurl­ing league and from what we hear are mak­ing a big ef­fort in the small ball game.

So we can put aside any no­tions of easy pick­ings in our first match.

All 35 or so play­ers that have been turn­ing up for train­ing are on the panel at present but that may have to be pruned back a bit shortly.

For the mo­ment ‘Titch’ and his se­lec­tors Martin Barnes and Eu­gene Byrne are likely to stick fairly closely with ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers and feed in new­com­ers by de­grees.

That means that we can ex­pect play­ers like the ev­er­green Jonathan O’Neill; Ted and Liam Kennedy, Joe Mur­phy, Wil­lie Collins, Jef­frey Brem­ing­ham, Eoin O’Neill, John Keogh, Andy O’Brien, Ea­monn Fur­long, De­nis Mo­ran and Jim and John Con­nors.

Among the young play­ers that should fig­ure will be Ro­nan Keddy, Billy Cud­dihy, Eoin Ma­son, Peter Kiely, Fin­tan Don­nolly, Thomas Doyle, Alan Driver, TJ Hen­nessy, Colm O’Neill, Ciarán Doyle, Adrian Keogh, Jimmy Kelly, John Harper, TJ Byrne, Christy Moorhouse, and Gearoid O’Murchu.

There are also oth­ers in the wings like Shaun Byrne, Nick Skel­ton, Paul Ga­han, Chris Ka­vanagh, and Em­met O’Sul­li­van.

Then we have new­comer Eoin Dunne from the Cuala club who looks like mak­ing the full-for­ward spot his own; Eoin Ma­her and Ger White.

That’s enough to be go­ing with and also enough to in­sure that the se­lec­tors will have their work cut out when they sit down to name a team to (hope­fully) beat Ar­magh on Sun­day.


In th­ese days of back doors, qual­i­fiers, losers groups and what have you the odd one out is the un­for­tu­nate U-21 foot­ballers.

It can hap­pen that they are thrown in, as Wick­low have been for a sec­ond year, at the deep end and it is sink or swim.

Phillip McGilly­cuddy’s team travel to Long­ford on Sun­day to take on a well pre­pared home side and must win to stay in the Cham­pi­onship.

It’s a toough task by any stan­dards. The mid­lan­ders have just com­pleted a hard run in the Hast­ings Cup which saw them reach the fi­nal.

That sort of match prac­tice would be hard for Phillip and his se­lec­tors, Mick O’Toole and Co­nan Daye to match.

None-the-less this team have got a good enough school­ing, in­clud­ing a num­ber of prac­tice matches against teams like Cork, Meath and Wex­ford and will not be found lack­ing in fit­ness.

Four of the panel - Dar­ren Hay­den, Ciaran Wal­she, An­thony McLough­lin and Dean Siney - played on Micko’s team in Belfast on Sun­day. At least two more, Gavun Mur­ray and Brian Os­borne, have trained reg­u­larly with the Se­nior panel..

Apart al­to­gether from in­jury prob­lems the odds are stacked against Phillip for three rea­sons.

First he has never been able to field a full strength team; he is con­ced­ing home ad­van­tage to a team that has been to­gether through a full tour­na­ment pro­gramme and lastly - the Se­nior match against Water­ford on the Satur­day.

Micko will want to win his first home match and if his back is to the wall he may have to call on some of the U-21 squad.

The team is un­likely to be picked be­fore Thurs­day so all we can do is have a guess at what it is likely to be.

Ro­nan Phe­lan may shade Rory Bres­lin for the goal­keep­ing spot.

The full-back line could be Craig O’Neill, Bren­dan McGarr and Ciarán Doyle with Colm Coogan los­ing out be­cause of fit­ness.

Seán Met­calfe, Brian Os­borne and An­thony McLough­lin should be the half­back line with Craig Smullen and Mark Kenny also in the reck­on­ing.

Blaine Har­mon, Cathal McNi­cholas and Gavin Mur­ray are the front run­ners for the two mid­field places.

The half-for­ward line could cost Phillip and his se­lec­tors some mid­night oil. Two front run­ners for places, Paddy Byrne and Shane Carty, are both car­ry­ing in­juries and must be listed as doubt­ful. That could leave a line of Dar­ren Hay­den, Donal Fitzger­ald and Seán Tobin.

Bar­ring late in­jury the full­for­ward line picks it­self. It should read - Ciarán Wal­she, Dean Siney and Paul Cun­ning­ham.

Oth­ers on the 29 strong panel and in line for places are Niall Cur­ran, Di­at­muid Cronin, Mark Caplis, Barry Mur­phy, Thomas Kelly, Oisin Doyle, and Donal Finch.

Pa­trick McWal­ter's mist­imed at­tempt to dis­lodge the ball from James Loughrey re­sulted in a late yel­low card in the Na­tional Foot­ball League Divi­sion 4 match against Antrim on Sun­day.

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