Tuesday 12 December 2017

'That touches their hearts'

Murphy thanks supporters

Wicklow's Eamon Kearns reaches the ball ahead of Down's Caolan Teggart
Wicklow's Eamon Kearns reaches the ball ahead of Down's Caolan Teggart

Brendan Lawrence

Wicklow Senior hurling manager Seamus Murphy has paid tribute to the supporters who cheered on his charges as they dismantled the Down challenge in Arklow on Sunday and then applauded them as they left the field saying that such gestures "touch the hearts of the players" and shows them that the efforts they are putting in are worth it.

A decent crowd turned up at Pearses' Park for the county side's fourth national hurling league clash, with Wicklow looking to secure a league final berth against Meath.

Christy Moorehouse won the toss before the game and elected to play against the wind and Seamus Murphy says that gave them a good chance to get into a good position at the break and push on from there.

"From the start we got into the game and we settled fairly quickly. We won the toss and played against the breeze. We were happy to nail it down from the start an if we could be within shooting distance at half-time then so much the better. That was our aim so to be 0-10 to 0-05 ahead was a great position to be in at half-time," he said.

The Rathnure man acknowledges that Down did manage to claw their way back into the game on a few occasions but that the blasting over of the penalty was a big moment in the game.

Seamus Murphy says that his message at half-time to the Wicklow players was that the first half was over and that they had to go back out and win the second half. They did this in no uncertain terms and the Wicklow boss says that the "bit of belief" that has been built up since the Trinity game in the Kehoe Cup is what's driving the team on in recent weeks.

"There's a bit of belief going through the team from the number of games we have won including the ones in the Kehoe Cup.

"That game against Trinity where we lost Peter Keane, at half-time we weren't in a great position but we won. And when I was driving home that evening I was saying to myself, "we have something here, these lads have character.

"These lads didn't fold, and that's a good thing. Like, they've been in a few bad situations and worked their way out of them; against Mayo, and they had a bad start against Derry," he added.

Discipline was a major factor on Sunday in Arklow. In Wicklow's case it was the maintaining of discipline and in Down's case it was the losing of it as they were reduced to 12 men late in the second half.

"I'm very happy with discipline in general," said Seamus. "We've improved in terms of getting cards and the likes but we do need to be careful of giving away soft frees. I've always said it that if you don't have discipline then you certainly won't have any silverware, that's for sure. And you'll always find that discipline breaks down when you go behind in a game but I'm very happy overall," he added.

Wicklow will now face Meath in Trim in what will be a dead rubber game and Seamus Murphy says that both he and Michael Neary will be sticking to their promise to the players that players who have seen no game time or very little game time will be provided with an opportunity to make a serious impression in two weeks' time.

Murphy says that there is a panel of 36 players working hard for the betterment of this Wicklow side and that everyone deserves their chance and he says that if a player takes this opportunity then they, as a management team, will have to sit down and have a look at that.

"This will be a good thing, if some fella really stands up to the challenge, if somebody does show up, that's what we are encouraging, then we'll have to have a look at it," he said.

Seamus also said that former Offaly defender Michael Verney is training with the squad and that the Irish Independent journalist approached himself and Michael Neary outside the dressing rooms after the Kehoe Cup final and explained his situation to them and has been training with the squad ever since. The Birr man made the 26-man panel last week after Aaron Nugent picked up a dead leg in Ashford's league win.

"Michael approached us, he introduced himself, he has relations there in Wicklow Town, he hasn't played any hurling since the Offaly county final. He made the 26-man panel last week but that's not to say he'll make it the next day," he said.

And finally, Seamus had a word for the supporters who turned up in Arklow last weekend.

"When they gave the players that applause after the game, that was great. That hits the heart of the players and if they see that then they'll know their efforts are worth it and if we can keep this going and get the support out for the lads then there will be better days for Wicklow hurling in the years ahead," he added.

Wicklow face Meath in Trim on March 26 at 3pm.

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