Minor hurlers are showing promise
HURLING IN Wicklow has a new spring in its step this year on the back of the successes of the county Senior team.
And this is percolating down to the county Minor team which had been struggling to survive in recent years.
Glenealy's Michael Anthony O'Neill is in charge of the Minors this year and he too has been responsible for infusing new life into the players and the team.
This became very evident at the weekend when the Minors travelled to Louth on Saturday to take part in a blitz competition.
In the first match they went under 2-6 to 2-10 to Down but followed up by trouncing home team Louth by a whopping 7-17 to 0-5.
In recent times Wicklow struggled to even field a county Minor hurling team, at times forced to give walk-overs because of a shortage of players, and they were defeated by Louth in the 2010 B championship.
After the long journey to Louth, Wicklow were in action straight away against Down and took some time to settle into the game.
With the aid of the wind and hill, Down got ahead early on, but Wicklow came back at their opponents once they clicked into gear and gave as good as they got.
In the Ulster hurling firmament, Down are second only to Antrim and for Wicklow to close the gap to just four points at the end was a considerable achievement indeed.
Furthermore this was Wicklow first competitive outing of the year at Minor whereas Down showed all the signs of a well coached and organised outfit.
One of the encouraging features from a Wicklow point of view was the fact that Michael Anthony was able to muster a squad of 26 players for the blitz. And the turnout for the Saturday training sessions has also been most encouraging but he appeals to all hurling clubs to come on board and put their shoulder to the wheel.
He said that the success of the county Seniors is rubbing off on the Minors. 'It is great for us but we need everyone to row in behind us. If we get every available player, we would be able to field quite a decent team.'
'We have a tough game in the championship against the losers of Carlow v. Westmeath - two high level hurling counties - in six weeks time or so and we need all hands to the pump for that game.'
Every member of the squad can take a bow for Wicklow's encouraging showing in Saturday's blitz.
Eire Og's Dan O'Neill was very strong in goal; Glenealy full-back Warren Kavanagh, Bray Emmett's Dermot Masterson at centre-back and Aaron Nugent on the wing led a solid defence. Considering that he had played with the Minor footballers the night before, John Manley from Glenealy shone at midfield; while up front Glenealy's Stephen Cody and Bray's Michael Lee did most of the scoring for Wicklow in both matches.
As the build-up to the championship continues, Michael Anthony is hoping to arrange a number of challenge matches for his charges over the coming weeks.