Murphy confident his Wicklow U-21s can defeat Roscommon
WICKLOW set off on their trail for the Under-21 B All-Ireland hurling crown this weekend as they take on Roscommon in Pearse’s Park, Arklow at 3 pm on Saturday afternoon in the quarter-finals.
It’s a crown that Wicklow managed to win back in 2015 and after having a successful year with the senior hurlers manager Séamus Murphy will be out to match the feat of two seasons ago.
It’s a task that the Wexford man accepts will be a difficult one as he acknowledges that over the last couple of years Wicklow have had little or no success at Minor level. However, Murphy says he has a team which is driven and hard-work- ing and will give the Rossies a right crack in Arklow on Saturday.
“We came together as a team seven or eight weeks ago and to be fair the lads have all put in a mighty effort. Obviously when you’re trying to train when the club season is in full flow and a lot of our lads would have dual commitments as well it can be a challenge but we’ve trained every Monday night and the application from everyone has been brilliant.
“A lot of lads would be coming to training having played a tough match on a Saturday or a Sunday and maybe are a bit tired but everyone really has put their best foot forward.
“We’ve played four challenge games since coming together and we’ve learned a lot from them and in fairness our application in all the games was very good. We had two good tussles with Pat’s senior team which we lost narrowly and then had good wins over Glenealy Intermediates and Ballyboden’s second team on Monday night.
“We rotated the team around so all the lads got a fair chance to stake their claim and we feel we have a fair idea now of the 15 that will line out on Saturday. It’ll take a squad effort though so the lads on the bench will have just as big a role to play.”
Murphy says that the bank of knowledge from his right hand man Michael Neary has also been a great tool to have when assembling the team.
“Michael knows Wicklow hurling inside out so to have his knowledge of different players across the coun-
ty has been great. We have players from a good spread of clubs across the county and he would’ve known how each of them was developing and getting on with their respective clubs so it’s invaluable advise to have really and Michael has played a very important role in the team.”
Wicklow will probably go into Saturday’s match against the West men as slight favourites considering they have home advantage but Murphy is well aware that a mighty challenge awaits.
“We certainly will be going with a one match at a time mantra and won’t be looking past Roscommon. Like ourselves Roscommon might not be considered a hurling heavy weight but they certainly have some very good hurlers and have been living in the shadow of Galway’s success over there so they’ll be fully determined to come down to Arklow and topple us.
“We have a few injuries to contend with as well so we really will have to bring our A game if we’re going to stand a chance.”
Wicklow will be without the services of Eoin McCormack and Carnew’s Andy Hughes, who picked up an injury against Glenealy in the Senior championship, while Bray shot stopper Cormac McNally is out with a longer term injury.
“The lads that we lost will be a blow but there’s no doubt that we have players who will be chomping at the bit to come in and show what they can do.
“Just on behalf of me and all the players and management I’d like to wish Cormac (McNally) a speedy recovery as well. Cormac was part of our panel and would have been strongly considered for the goalkeeping position. Unfortunately he picked up a serious injury in a club match a few weeks back and has been hospitalised since so we can only hope that he’ll recover and be back on a hurling pitch soon but he’ll certainly be on our minds on Saturday so hopefully we can pick up a win for him.”
Murphy acknowledges as well that the state of under-21 hurling in the county will have a big bearing on how the Senior team fair in the future.
“I think it’s massive to develop the players so hopefully some of them will go on and add something to the Senior panel in the future. This year we had three or four lads on the current under 21s who were on the senior team and probably the same number again who were on the panel at some stage.
“I know from my previous experience of managing the Wexford under-21s back in 2001 and 2002 that winning two underage titles propelled a lot of those lads to go on and do well at Senior, including winning the Leinster title in 04 so I think it’s very important that we’ll help players develop positively and make the transition onto Senior level.”
“It’ll be a big task on Saturday but I think it promises to be a great game and I’m confident that our lads can do the business. Hopefully we can get as many people in Pearse’s Park at 3pm on Saturday as it’d give the lads a great boost”.
Wicklow’s Padraig Doran, left, and Padraig Doyle, celebrate after victory over Meath in the All-Ireland under-21 B final of 2015.