Wick­low ladies tame Cats

Bray People - - SPORT -

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.

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