Friday 23 March 2018

Harry happy with Offaly at home

With Aughrim backing them, Harry Murphy is hoping Wicklow can avoid the anomaly of exiting the championship without a win to their name.

Offaly will be hoping to inflict that misery on the Garden County but Murphy is grateful for the home draw. Now Wicklow need to take advantage of it though or their season will be over by June 21.

"Anybody that was there in the qualifiers, all they were hoping for was a home draw and that's what we got. A home draw is as much as you could've asked for. It could've been far worse, we could've been up in Fermanagh or Derry or even down in Tullamore so we'd be happy enough. There are no guarantees in football but obviously the fact that we have a home draw will give us a slight advantage.

"It saves you the travelling, it saves you playing on their home pitch. Hopefully the crowd will be there. We'd a good crowd against Laois and hopefully we'll give them something to cheer about this time."

After an action-packed weekend on the domestic front, a few of Murphy's stars have been left licking their wounds. Damien Power, Leighton Glynn, Paul Earls, Ciaran Hyland and Mark Kenny were all uncertainties as Murphy reassembled his panel for training on Monday.

"The boys were all back with their clubs, there was a full round of championship matches last weekend so we won't know until tonight (Monday) to see who has come through and who hasn't come through. Obviously there'll be a few lads who have picked up knocks. Hopefully it'll be nothing serious.

"Leighton and Power didn't play so we'll just keep our fingers crossed that the two of those will come through. We have a couple of weeks to get ready. I heard that Mark Kenny dislocated his shoulder at the weekend. I couldn't get to all the games, I got to two or three of them so I don't know who has come through and who hasn't come through. Paul Earls wasn't able to play in the Laois game – I don't know how Paul is doing (or Ciaran Hyland). All we'll be doing is hoping that those boys come through because they'd be four very experienced players and we need everyone we have."

Murphy managed to take in three championship fixtures during the weekend. He might not have been bowled off his feet by the football on show but he was kept entertained nonetheless.

"It wasn't a great standard of football in Ashford but it was a very highly contested game between Hollywood and Bray.

"Yesterday, I was in Aughrim for the Newtown and Kiltegan game. That game went down to the last five minutes and a bit of brilliance from Seanie (Furlong) won the game.

"Then I watched Rathnew and Tinahely and again, Tinahely put up a really good battling performance against Rathnew. I'm sure the management will be happy enough with the performance they put up. Deccie Byrne will also be very happy to get over the first round without Leighton and Damien."

With local pride won or lost, it's time to focus on national pride. It'd make a severe dent in Wicklow's should they exit the championship at the hands of Offaly. Murphy knows what his troops are capable of but he also knows that nobody should be writing Offaly off.

"The lads are back now and it should be a good boost to the lads that we're not away so hopefully we'll get the ball rolling tonight (Monday) and we'll all be in good shape for Saturday week.

"You want to get a championship win under your belt for a start and you never know where that'll take you. The lads are back with us now and hopefully we'll get another game or two out of it. That's what championships are trying to do. I'm not going to be silly and say we're going to win an All-Ireland from here but if we can get another couple of games out of it, it'd be nice for the lads and everybody involved.

"It's not too long ago that Offaly were competing and competing very highly for Leinster titles. Obviously they're not there now but that doesn't mean anything. Offaly are still Offaly. They're still going to come to Aughrim (to win). They're going to believe they're good enough to beat Wicklow and it's up to us and our lads to get into the right frame of mind to make sure that doesn't happen." The game throws in at 7pm in Aughrim.

Bray People