Finding the positives
Murphy says hurling at higher level has benefits
It might have been a very difficult weekend for the Wicklow 'A' hurling team, but manager Seamus Murphy is taking the positives from their 6-36 to 1-12 thumping at the hands of Davy Fitzgerald's Wexford in Ashford in the Walsh Cup.
With a raft of injuries hitting the county team at the moment it left Seamus Murphy, coach Michael Neary and selectors Michael Anthony O'Neill and Timmy Collins with the unenviable job of splitting their panel in two so as to go and seek to stay in the Kehoe Cup by beating Louth in Darver at the same time as the meeting with Wexford.
With the likes of Christy Moorehouse, John Henderson, Eamonn Kearns, Daniel Staunton, Luke Maloney and Stephen 'Chester' Kelly unavailable for various reasons, it left the Wicklow management in a tricky position.
However, a three-point victory over Louth has kept their Kehoe Cup ambitions alive while Murphy hopes that the experience gained by players in the heavy defeats to Carlow and Wexford will stand to them in the long run. The Louth win was helped by the return of Jonathan 'Bosco' O'Neill Snr who bagged 1-06 on the day and drove the team on from midfield. Murphy admits it was a case of 'Bosco' giving the county a "dig-out" but that if the Glenealy and Wicklow legend should decide to come out of retirement then he would be welcomed with open arms.
"We were terrified going to Louth because we wanted to stay in the Kehoe Cup," said Seamus Murphy. "We were fierce depleted. The first team in Ashford only had five of the starting team from the Christy Ring Cup semi-final last year: Martin O'Brien, Warren Kavanagh, Ronan Keddy, Andy O'Brien and Padraig Doyle.
"So, apart from keeping a few guys on the 'B' team to give us some leadership in Louth, we went up there needing to get out of jail and we needed a dig-out from Jonathan. We wouldn't be doing that in normal circumstances but Jonathan has given his life and soul to Glenealy and Wicklow hurling and he's after having a great year and he was hurling up until a few weeks ago so nobody could object to him making the trip. And if that man wants to continue then he is more than welcome. It's in his hands but we'd love to see him around the place for the rest of the year," he said.
The Wicklow boss freely admits that the 'A' team suffered an "awful hammering" but he gives the Wicklow men huge credit for going out and having a cut at the game.
"That's all you can ask for," he said. "They (Wexford) beat Kilkenny twice last year and weren't that far off Galway at half-time in the Leinster final.
"I think it's a good thing to go into those competitions. Ok, they were two hammerings but can a few lads benefit from that experience, will some of the lads see a few things from hurling at the higher level? There has to be some benefit." he added.
The injuries worries brings good and bad news for Wicklow hurling supporters.
There's bad news on the Christy Moorehouse (Bray) front with the stalwart looking to be out for a minimum of eight weeks with an ankle injury. Eamonn Kearns has injured his back and is also looking at eight weeks on the sideline.
Danny Staunton should return in a week or two while John Henderson has pulled his hamstring but should return soon, while Stephen Kelly is only back off his honeymoon and Luke Maloney is tied up with exams.
Wicklow play Longford in the Kehoe Cup this Sunday at 2pm in Kilcoole.