All about experimenting this time of the season
WICKLOW HAVE two more matches in the O'Byrne Cup this week. Tonight (Wednesday) we play Carlow in the new Bray Emmets complex at Old Conna and then on Sunday Harry and his men must travel to Parnell Park to take on the Dubs.
After a very good first-half performance last week, the team did fall apart a little bit in the second-half and were lucky enough to hold on for a draw in the end, but that's the price you must pay for experimenting.
In fact, if you compare the team with that which won the Division 4 cup last year against Fermanagh, Harry was short of eight of that team and if you go through the panel from that day in Croke Park the total number of absentees would be 14.
Some of them Harry is unlikely to see any more. Tony Hannon is one that has definitely retired while Peadar Burke and Niall Gaffney are now plying their trade in a foreign land. Others like John McGrath and sub Conor McGraynor are claimed by their college team for this competition.
But that still leaves Harry with a lot of experimenting to do and we expect he will get on with that job over the next two matches. He still has players on his panel like Alan Byrne and Austin O'Malley, who were ‘flu victims last week, Barry Murphy, Robert Lambert, Kevin Hanlon, Mick McLoughlin, Paul McLoughlin, Kevin Murphy, James Sheerin, Ciarán Tyrrell, Jason Bolger, sub goalkeeper Colm Byrne, Richard Murphy, Matthew Gilbert, Brendan Kennedy, Eugene Dunne, Adam Merriman, Daniel Woods, Daniel Hayden and Mark Doyle.
While experimenting could be the top priority at the moment, it could also leave Harry with a problem that he could well do without. After getting a point from his first match he would be anxious enough to get something from the match against Carlow but in order to do that he may have to curtail the experimenting a bit. Then should he get the two points from that match he will be taking on the Dubs in what will be a make or break game to decide who goes through to the semi-final.
So I can see Harry, Gavin and Mick burning the midnight oil on that one. Without a doubt if we get out at somewhere near full strength we should be in with a good chance of beating Carlow, particularly on a grounds that they are not used to playing on.
The two players that are most likely to get on the starting fifteen this week, should they have recovered, are Alan Byrne and Austin O'Malley, but after his power-packed display in the first-half at midfield, Anthony McLoughlin would be a certainty to start there again should he have recovered sufficiently from his injury.
The Eire Og duo, Stephen Kelly and Darren Hayden, are two others that we would like to see in the starting line-up.
Others that may be due a run out would include Kevin Murphy, James Sheerin and Adam Merriman, all of them candidates for a midfield berth.
No chance at all of seeing Leighton Glynn or Seánie Furlong returning to action in the near future. The best we can hope for would be somewhere midway through the league campaign.
Anyway, should we win on Wednesday night against Carlow, it is a safe bet that Harry will be fielding his best available side against the Dubs in Parnell Park.
One thing we can be sure of is that Anthony Rainbow will have Carlow fully fired up for tonight's match so Wicklow can expect no favours and will have to pull out all the stops if they are to get a result.
Eoin Keogh holds off Cathal Ellis in Sunday’s draw with DCU in Greystones.