‘IT’LL BE HELL FOR LEATHER’
Harry calls for big crowd
HARRY MURPHY has called on the people of Rathnew to help his side extend Blessington’s 29 years of hurt.
The Rathnew manager has admitted that his side’s support, traditionally so overwhelmingly inspiring, has been below par this year but he has challenged them to roar their heroes to a fourth title in five years.
A four-point victory over Baltinglass secured Rathnew’s place in Sunday’s final, their seventh appearance in the last 10 such showdowns, which is in stark contrast to Blessington’s 29 years without a final.
Murphy feels that it could have been a more comfortable victory had his side’s forwards been more clinical but their excellent fitness levels helped to carry them over the line.
“We’re delighted with ourselves. A final is a final. We got beaten in the quarter-final stage last year so we owed it to ourselves to get back to Aughrim and now we’ve got to the final this year and the lads have come up trumps.
“Very tough going (against Baltinglass) but it was nothing that we weren’t expecting. We saw Baltinglass against Eire Og and they were moving very well. They were very tactical as well and it took us a while to get to grips with the tactics that Baltinglass were using. They had a good few wides in the first half in fairness to them but I think once we got to grips with them, we were the better team and if we’d had our shooting boots on in the second half, we could have ran out much easier winners.”
An off-day against St. Patrick’s aside, Rathnew’s season has gone to plan for Murphy who has been deciding when to stick or twist with his side – opting to keep their best in reserve until it was required.
“We started the year off really, really well. We put an awful lot of work into getting ourselves into the right frame of mind and right physical shape but we couldn’t keep that going. The league was a joke and we were flying early on but then we sort of had to take a step back and take the foot off the pedal at stages during the year because we just couldn’t push them at that level for the full year. Also, some of our lads are getting towards the end of their careers so we couldn’t really keep the foot on the pedal all the time.
“We had started off quite well but then against Pat’s we got a bit of a pasting. We regrouped then and drew against Baltinglass which got us out of the group.
“It’s stood to us, especially against Kiltegan and in the second half today. I thought our fitness levels late in those games when we needed them was excellent.”
Murphy is astonished that it has taken his side’s opponents 29 years to return to a final but he rubbishes any notion of that giving his side the upper hand.
“I was talking to Michael Sargent last week and I couldn’t believe that it had been that long since they’d been in the final. It is what it is, it won’t make it any easier on us and it won’t make it any easier on Blessington. Every final is there to be won on the day no matter how long it’s been since your last one – there’s no sympathy votes in finals. It doesn’t matter how many finals you’ve been in or how many you haven’t been in. It’s a final and everyone that togs out in Aughrim and walks behind the band next week will be there to win the game.
“They have very, very experienced footballers. They’ve got the McLoughlins and Barry Murphy – they’ve talented inter-county footballers all over the field. We know there’ll be nothing easy. The fact that they haven’t been in a county final is irrelevant.
“It’ll be hell for leather. I’ve seen Blessington play a few times this year.
“The last day out against Avondale it was fairly pedestrian for them. It’s a fairly young Avondale team so I think everyone was sort of expecting that result but the one against Pat’s, I’m not saying it was a surprise, but Pat’s were probably the favourites for the championship so for Blessington to come along and deservedly win the game…they’ve deserved to get to a county final.
“But all that means nothing. It’ll be whatever happens in the 60 minutes on the field will decide who is the county champion. We’re just delighted that we’re there and it doesn’t matter to us who we play. Our aim at the start of the year was to get to the final.”
Having waited 29 years for this opportunity, Murphy expects Blessington to make themselves heard in the stands next week and he has challenged Rathnew’s fans to match their decibels.
“It should be a great occasion. We’d hope to get a big crowd next week.
“Actually, I’ve been disappointed with the crowds that have been showing up for us.
“We were outnumbered in most of the games so hopefully the crowd get behind us because we’re going to need every man, woman and child in Aughrim to give us a dig-out. Blessington are going to go down in huge numbers.”
Blessington boss Barry O’Donovan will be jetting home from Australia for Sunday’s match after recently emigrating to Melbourne for work reasons. Murphy was unaware of his opposite number’s predicament but it changes nothing in Harry Murphy’s mind who only has eyes on one thing.
“I never heard a word about Blessington, I didn’t ask about Blessinton and I didn’t care about Blessington. My only focus for the last two weeks was to get the lad through the hurling without any injuries and then we were just totally focussed on Baltinglass. We couldn’t look any further than Baltinglass – they were county champions and the in-form team so no disrespect to Blessington but we weren’t focussed on them.”
Rathnew boss Harry Murphy will look to guide the Village back to the summit of Wicklow football.