Harry hopes for good Tipp battle
Wicklow boss feeling confident
PROMOTION will be the sole aim but not the sole focus for Harry Murphy as he takes his troops to Tipperary on Sunday.
The Garden County men will need to overcome the tabletoppers and then pray that Antrim upset the odds against Clare to send Wicklow up. However, if that idyllic situation does not come to light, Murphy feels that he can take solace from his side’s strong finish to the season, which should set them up nicely for a crack at the championship.
Waterford were the latest side to fall foul of Wicklow’s late promotion push, with two powerful Seanie Furlong goals the catalyst for the win.
“It was a good win”, noted Murphy. “We haven’t been beaten easily. They’ve always been tight affairs and it was tight until the last 15 minutes on Sunday.
“But we could’ve had a bit more of a lead at half time if we’d have taken our chances. It wasn’t to be and when they got back with us to within a point, it was a bit scary but the lads finished off very strongly. I think the fitness won in the end, we ran out comfortable winners in the end.”
Furlong grabbed the headlines for his double, despite struggling in the build-up to the match with an ankle injury. There were several other performances that caught the eye; especially that of young Kevin Murphy.
“Kevin is coming on leaps and bounds. He’s definitely establishing himself on the team, which is good from a Wicklow point of view that there’s younger players coming through and really putting a stamp on things.
“Seanie’s been doing those sorts of things for a while. It wouldn’t be anything we wouldn’t expect from Sean. Sean, on his right (foot), he’s one of the best footballers around. He finished very well. He finished his two goals; took them very, very well. It was a huge game for him.
“Kevin (Murphy) and Padge (McWalter) and Dean Healy worked very, very hard all through because Waterford are a very decent side. They’re a big strong team, a big physical team, so we had to work very hard to get the result we wanted.”
The pleasant conversion between the Wicklow People and Murphy on Monday evening could have been drastically different, had it not been for a heroic block from full back Damien Power. The Rathnew man’s intervention was probably the difference between winning and losing and it didn’t go unnoticed by his manager.
“I thought our backline had a reasonable game as well. We snuffed out a lot of their threat. Damien got a marvellous block in at one stage. (Robert) Lambert made a couple of good saves, (Ciaran) Hyland I thought had an excellent game – one of his better games to date.
“I think that (the goal Power prevented) would’ve put them ahead and instead of that there was a four-pointer (four point swing) because we went straight up the field and got a point off it. It was vital – a vital block. He had to do it because he’d got completely caught out of position when the ball went over his head so it was vital that he got back. But how he got back to it – he must have made up five or six yards on your man before he got the shot away. It was excellent. It was a great lift for the team.”
Wicklow’s faith is now out of Murphy’s hands. All he can do is get them over the line against Tipp and hope for a favour from Antrim. The wily tactician is already beginning to plot for Wicklow’s next challenge and no matter what happens this weekend, Murphy will have his charges ready for the championship when it comes around.
“Waterford drew with them in Tipperary. That would give us hope going down there. They might have improved since then but we have to be going down with confidence; there’s no point going down with anything other than a win – we have to win. We’re very positive after the last two results. It’s been a while since a Wicklow team beat Carlow by the score we beat them by. We went to Antrim (and won) and we had a bit of a wobble there in the middle and let ourselves down against Leitrim. Fair play to the lads though, they’ve responded very well and they’ve come back and got two great wins over the last couple of weeks.
“It’s league football, you never know (what could happen). There’s been a couple of crazy results. Who’s to say what could happen? Antrim don’t want to be at the foot of the table – no county team want to be down there so I’m sure Antrim will do everything in their power. I don’t think Clare are as good (as people think), they beat us but we played with 14 men. I think if we’d had the full complement down there that day, we could’ve got a result. I’d be hopeful but we can’t worry about the Clare –Antrim game, we just have to win our own game and then what happens after that happens.
“We’ll have enough to be doing to try and beat Tipperary. They’re top of the division. If everything goes well for us, it goes well for us but it’s more important for us to finish off with a good performance heading into the championship.”