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Promotion in Garden's aim

THEY'RE already being backed to pull off the first upset of the summer but, before that, Wicklow have a very serious job to do this Sunday in Aughrim.

A win against Division 4 surprise packages Clare will see Harry Murphy's men escape the league's basement -- a feat never achieved by Mick O'Dwyer in his four years in the Garden County. Then, says, Murphy, Wicklow can worry about taking on Meath on May 27.

"We decided to treat the league like the championship," Murphy told the Herald. "Because there is no point in us worrying about the championship if you're playing in Division 4. You might have one day in the sun but you're not going to do anything."

After losing two of their opening three games to Waterford and Fermanagh, a do-or-die clash with the Banner seemed wholly unlikely, but a string of impressive victories since have left Wicklow in a winner-takes-all shoot-out with a side Murphy feels have as much right to promotion as anyone.

"They're a bit like Limerick," he noted. "Every so often, they'll push Cork or Kerry in a Munster championship match and they have been in Division 3 since the last time we have, so they would have a fair bit of tradition too. They're fighting all the time with those sort of big teams - just like we are with Meath, Kildare and Dublin. This is their big chance for a bit of glory, no different from ourselves.


"We would feel, for instance, that we would be in a position to compete with the likes of Westmeath. And Westmeath have won a Leinster title in the recent past and they did very well to stay in Division 2 this year. Fair play to them.

"There are serious teams in that league and they've held on there. Look at Tipperary - okay, they came back down but they went from Division 4 to Division 2 in no time. The same with Longford.

"We have good footballers. Leighton (Glynn) has played for his country a couple of times and he's never kicked a ball in his life outside of Division 4. Ciarán Hyland has been nominated for an All Star and Tony Hannon has dedicated his life to Wicklow football."

At their O'Dwyer-managed zenith, Wicklow made the last 12 of the All-Ireland Series but just as they failed to climb out of Division 4 during the great man's reign, so too did Leinster glory elude them.

Their opener -- against a team (Meath) they will face in next year's Division 3 if promotion is secured -- bares all the hallmarks of a potential ambush, but Murphy was quick to dismiss any notion of taking on something of a wounded animal.

"People say Meath are coming down but if you look at the quality of teams that beat them, they're serious teams," he stressed. "By their standards, okay it wasn't great. But by Division 4 standards, it's still good.

"They had a couple of good wins early on and then the wheels seemed to come off. But if we could just get out of this division, we can give Meath a lash. We would feel we'd have had a good year if we get promoted."