Plenty of positives
NFL - Wicklow v London - Aughrim (prov)
Published 29/01/2014 | 05:44
WICKLOW face an early baptism of fire when they take on London at Aughrim on Sunday at the unusual time of 1pm. (We say provisional because at the time of writing Aughrim is deemed unplayable).
Harry has prepared the team as well as possible, given pitch conditions over recent weeks. He brought in high profile fitness guru, Ronan Carroll, and already the results are starting to show.
He also enlisted Johnny McGee as an extra coach during Mick Murray's illness. With McGee's Dublin background he is sure to know what is needed to make progress. So nothing has been left to chance.
One drawback is the delay in completing our own state of the arts facilities in Ballinakill but County Chairman, Martin Coleman, assures us that the project is progressing well.
Harry had his final work out against Offaly in Newcastle on Sunday and while I have stated elsewhere in this paper that little could be read into the exercise but there was some positives.
For starters we do appear to have the material to plug the gaps in defence. The return of Damien Power and Alan Byrne is welcome while Ciaran Hyland still looks a certainty for the other corner.
The progress of the youngest of the McLoughlin brothers, Paul, is very encouraging. Kevin Murphy is one of the most improved players on the panel and appears to be a certain starter at wing back.
However, himself and Dean Healy play the same type of game. They are attacking half backs and seldom leave a field without getting on the score sheet.
On the down side, the wing forwards that they are often leaving behind can be picking off easy scores at the other end. They are both young players and a bit of extra coaching could remedy that problem.
The return of Niall Gaffney has given Harry more options around the middle but are we getting all that is there?
Harry, like everyone else, is searching for a another Cluxton. Some that can point the long range frees with consistency. Do I remember a time when Niall Gaffney could send them over from all angles and distances, and with both feet - could be worth a try Harry.
Our forward set up last Sunday did look promising. Conor McGraynor on the edge of the square with Seanie in the corner. On the other side we had Leighton Glynn in the corner and Paul Earls on the wing.
Leighton took up a roving role as he always likes to do with Earls slipping inside to take advantage of the breaks.
Paudge McWalter was steering the ship from the 'forty' with Christy Murphy working hard on the other wing.
They may have missed chances but ran up a total of 3-6 in half an hour which in my books would do any day.
I know that there are a lot of people that that would prefer to see McWalter anchoring the defence but for the moment he looks the best leader of an attack that we have had in years
Midfield without a really big fielder like Stafford could be a problem. Anthony McLoughlin is a certainty while the other spot will go to either Gaffney or the lad that Mick Murphy maintains is the fittest player on the panel, Rory Finn.
If we were losing the aerial battle then James Sheerin appears to be the best bet.
Harry had other fish to fry last Sunday and could only leave that set up in place for 30 minutes but what we saw we liked
Don't expect miracles just yet but I do believe Harry and his back room team have the framework there to build on.
Sunday will be tough - that goes without saying, but I believe we can do it. And if we do, and with the ill, the injured or otherwise absent players back, Wicklow can have another right good bash at promotion.