Wicklow ladies tame Cats
WICKLOW Ladies opened their Division 4 National League campaign on Sunday against Kilkenny in Dunmore.
Kilkenny represented somewhat of an unknown proposition for Wicklow as they are newcomers to the league, having re-joined after several years absence.
In the end, Wicklow ran out convincing winners by a scoreline of 5-16 to 0-01.
When asked for his thoughts on the big victory, Wicklow manager Mick O’ Rourke was understandably happy with the performance but he was also keen to downplay the scoreline.
He said ‘The game went very well, obviously it was a big win but I wouldn’t read too much into it. Kilkenny are only back in the league after being absent for several years and they were missing a number of key players.
‘They had eight starters unavailable today as they are representing their club in the All-Ireland Camogie Championship so that obviously weakened their team’.
The benefit of such a dominant performance is that it gave a number of newcomers to this year’s panel an opportunity to settle in and get to grips with the rigours of the inter-county game.
Indeed, O’Rourke notes that there has been a number of additions to the panel this season.
‘We had 25 players togged out today representing a total of nine clubs, it’s a good spread across the county. We have had some newcomers and there was certainly lots of fresh faces on display today, a number of debuts were made. All 25 players made an appearance on the field today.’
After posting such an impressive scoreline, there was obviously a number of excellent performances. O’Rourke said that the entire team put in a good shift but reserved special praise for three payers in particular.
‘Shauna Byrne from the Blessington club had a great debut today at corner back, she kept things tight at the back throughout. Claire Walsh played at centre-forward and really impressed. Just back from America, Claire played with the county before she left and enjoyed a good outing today. Amy Murphy from An Tochar played corner forward and she was another player who had a good game.’
This victory was the culmination of a long period of preparation in pre-season, a pre-season which Mick O’Rourke feels went particularly well.
‘We had a great pre-season, all the players prepared very well for today. There has been a lot of strength and conditioning work done under Shay Dunne and we have also had a Sarah-Jane Cullen, a nutritionist, involved.
‘We have a large panel this year and despite a few injuries the turnouts at training have been very good. Throughout January the team has been putting in four sessions a week.
In February this will be scaled back to three sessions a week but the girls will be doing their own gym session every week on top of that. The attitude has been very good so I’m very pleased with the preparation.’
With a solid pre-season behind them, what is the target for this year?
Mick O’ Rourke has his eye on progress on two fronts.
‘The target at the moment is definitely promotion out of Division 4. We were beaten last year in the semi-final so we’re definitely looking to go further this year.
‘Only one team gets promoted so it’s a tough ask but it’s definitely our aim.
‘Achieving promotion and playing at a higher level will make us more competitive for the Intermediate Championship, in both the Leinster and the All-Ireland series.’
There is a lot more football to be played before this goal can become a reality but such an emphatic opening to the league campaign coupled with the right preparation for the year is certainly a promising sign for Mick O’Rourke’s side at this early stage.