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Wednesday 15 August 2018

'Pressure is all on Offaly'

Furlong says Wicklow can win

Wicklow captain Seanie Furlong will lead his comrades into battle against Offaly this Sunday in Portlaoise
Wicklow captain Seanie Furlong will lead his comrades into battle against Offaly this Sunday in Portlaoise

Daniel Gorman

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but Seanie Furlong is hoping that cockiness will be the Faithful County’s downfall.

Furlong scored the decisive goal in 2014 in Wicklow’s last championship victory - a 1-15 0-16 success over Longford - and he’s hoping to rekindle that winning feeling on Sunday as Wicklow take on Offaly.

With Wicklow’s opponents sitting pretty in Division 3, Furlong envisions them looking down at their winless Division 4 opponents with disdain and that provides the perfect ingredient for the Garden County to catch them on the hop and get that winning feeling again - something that a lot of this panel are yet to experience.

“I hope they’re thinking we’ll be handy. I haven’t really seen much of them this year so wouldn’t know their mindset but it could be - I’d nearly presume it is. We finished bottom of Division 4 - sure it has to be their mindset. We’re happy if that’s what they’re thinking.

“They did well in Division 3. They’d a good win over Westmeath the last day. They’ll be hard bet (sic). We didn’t manage to get a win in Division 4 and I think they had three wins in their league. There’d be quite a jump from Division 4 to Division 3. Look, they’ve good footballers. You’re up against the best in Offaly but we can just prepare the best that we can and give it a good go.

“It’s like a virus (winning). You get the feel for it and you just want to win as much as you can. You look back at the four years and all the lads that have come in since then, they’ve never had that feeling. Hopefully we can get the win over Offaly and maybe it’ll feed into them and rub off them. You could end up with a run in the qualifiers - you just don’t know. On any given day (anything can happen), it really is true.”

Furlong isn’t spouting nonsensical dreams. He knows a Wicklow triumph would be an upset but when searching for motivation, the Kiltegan man doesn’t have to strain his eyes.

“On any given day (anything can happen). Look at Rathnew - look at what they did to St. Vincent’s. They were up against the best in the country and they believed they could win and they won so fair play to them. We’ve to get that in our heads and think along the same lines. The mindset that Rathnew had (is what we need). We’ll be okay.”

While it may be a first taste of championship action for some of the panel, quite a few also helped to down Longford four years ago and Furlong hopes the blend of young and old will come good on Sunday.

“I think it’s all going well. We’ve got together and regrouped after the league and put in a bit of work. I think we’d a few injuries coming back but everything going well, we’re going to give this a good go.

“It’s been championship for the last five or six weeks. We got the league out of our head and we went back to training and we said we’d concentrate on Offaly and that is all that we’ve been thinking about. We’ve got players back and we’ve a good panel and a good, solid team.

“If you look down through the team - we’ve a good mixture of experience and youth. We’ve James Stafford, Dean Healy, Rory Finn, Darren Hayden (all played versus Longford); they’ve been there or thereabouts for the last 10 years. With the young lads coming on, we can try and help them and explain to them that it is just another match. Don’t play the occasion - it’s just another day. Go out and do what you do best.”

In their forgettable league campaign, Wicklow left themselves with mountains to climb occasionally as they allowed their opponents to blitz them and Furlong knows they won’t get away with it against Offaly. He also doesn’t envy Evans having to whittle his hungry squad down to 15 starters.

“Championship is always on the edge. You have to keep it tight at the start and see what way the game pans out. I know what you’re saying about the league - we could fall asleep for a few minutes and there’s 2-2 banged in and you’re chasing. We’ve worked on that and we think we have it sorted. It’s a lot easier to hold onto a lead than to go chasing a lead.

“I’d say he has a few selection headaches. I really don’t know what he’s thinking. I wouldn’t like to be selecting it anyway. Every single place is up for grabs.”

Should Wicklow land an unfancied victory against Offaly, Dublin would await them. Furlong doesn’t want to entertain thoughts of taking on the all-conquering Dubs yet but has a plan should it come to fruition. The captain has also backed his young, freshfaced team-mates to step up to the plate on Sunday.

“I tell you what - if we beat Offaly I’ll give you a buzz during the week to talk about Dublin!

“It’s young. He’s got in a lot of youths. It has to be done I feel because you have to bring them in but it’s going to take time. You can’t just succeed overnight. You have to learn and it’s been a good experience for the youths. John has brought in a lot of young people and they are very good footballers. They have to go out and get the experience and I tell you what - in a year or two you’ll see seven or eight very good footballers coming through.

“We’re going all out for it - all out. There’s no pressure on us, nobody expects us to win. The pressure is on Offaly but we’ll go and we’ll have a go at them.”

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