‘IT’LL BE HELL FOR LEATHER’

Harry calls for big crowd

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - Sports Re­porter

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.

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