‘We have our homework done’
Murphy brings Minors to Meath
SATURDAY cannot come quick enough for Wicklow Minor football manager John Murphy. This weekend the footballers take on Meath in the first round of the Leinster championship and the Blessington man, who has been involved with a large contingent of this particular squad since they were under-14, speaks about his team with pride, passion, confidence and hope.
And why shouldn't he? With a coaching staff of Andy Jameson, Martin Hamilton and Brian Whelan, any team would be well prepared and having watched this team develop since 2011 there's no denying that John Murphy will have given his all for the Wicklow cause.
Meath provide serious opposition on Saturday having beaten Dublin in the Leinster league only to be pipped by Longford in the semi-final.
The Royals are always there or thereabouts at Minor level and a home draw against Wicklow, in the eyes of Meath supporters, for the first round will be absolutely ideal.
Murphy though, coming from a Wicklow point of view says that the ‘bigger’ county theory is a myth.
“To be honest, that whole thing of playing a 'bigger' county is a myth, just because you're born in a particular county doesn't give you a god given right to be a good footballer, or just because a Senior team is doing well, doesn't mean your Minors will necessarily be brilliant,” says John. He furthered his point too. “I mean the only difference is the jersey on the back of the man, this weekend one will be blue and one will be green,”.
His point is backed up by the feat of the Tipperary Minor footballers three years ago, who are due to perform well at under-21 grade this summer.
While their Senior footballers were heading towards Division 3 relegation their Minors were beating all that stood in their way.
Murphy began training the Minors last October and he says the vast majority of Minor footballers within the county were looked at in the lead up to this year.
“I'd say 99% of the Minor footballers within the county were looked at, we had over 70 lads in for trials and games and the coaches went to a lot of the games around the county to scout lads that maybe had slipped through the net, so I'd say we have a very good panel,” said Murphy.
October seems like a long time ago since this panel first came together and they have put in some serious hours in that time.
“We've trained three times a week since then, two mid week sessions and a Sunday morning session usually,” said Murphy.
“The County Board have been fantastic, and the clubs have been brilliant too, especially Laragh and Roundwood, the board feeds the players in mid week and really looks after them and those two clubs have been extremely generous to us, often rearranging their own training times to suit us, we couldn't ask for more,” said a gracious Murphy.
This Wicklow Minor team have been given the works too, it hasn't all been hard running and slogging.
“We've done strength and conditioning with them, food, nutrition, football, all the elements that make a strong county team and we have 13 clubs across the county represented this year, things have gone really well and we're really eager to get out on the field in Navan on Saturday,” continued Murphy.
A lot of Minor football success, according to the word of John Murphy, is down to belief, attitude and confidence.
“Minor panels are only together for a short period of time and so it's too hard to go into real specific tactics that you might be able to work on with a team that are going to have several years together,” started Murphy.
“A lot of Minor football is about confidence and that starts from the management. They must be confident and believe in the system they are trying to implement and once they are that will filter through to the players,” said Murphy,
There is a long term goal at the end of this journey for John Murphy and whilst he is realistic he is also a believer in Wicklow football.
“The goal for us is to still be training in September, half of these players are eligible for Minor next year and I am quietly confident about Saturday. We have our homework done, we are well prepared, I'm looking forward to it,” said Murphy.
There are just two injury concerns ahead of the game this weekend with Dillon Terry and Darren Walsh unlucky to be out of the fray for Saturday.