Sunday 17 December 2017

Time to cut loose

Wicklow v. Roscommon, Dr Hyde Park

Wicklow face into their first away game in Division 3 of the National Football League on Sunday.

They travel to Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon town to take on the home side knowing that they badly need a win to remove the two duck eggs from behind the name on the chart.

Trips west of the Shannon have not proved too profitable in the past. We have got a few wins in Carrick-on-Shannon and the odd one in Sligo but other than that I can't recall a really big day for Wicklow footballers anywhere near the Western seaboard.

The return of Seanie Furlong and Jacko Dalton has certainly strengthened the forward set up but that is for further down the road.

Both are training well but Seanie certainly has a lot of ground to make up in the fitness stakes.

With a bit of luck he might make the closing stages of the league but most likely he is a man for the championship.

Jacko Dalton is a bit more advanced and has impressed in training so it is possible that we may see him make a return in the short term rather than the long term but definitely not on Sunday.

Nicky Mernagh and Stephen Byrne are now reported to be fully recovered from injury and will be bidding for starting places on the team.

Conor McGraynor, now that his commitments to his college are over, is also expected back at training and since he is match fit it could give Harry some options in the short term.

The one thing that we learned from the match against Meath is that we simply have to have a target man up front. When James Stafford was moved in there late in the game it made all the difference but can we afford the big fella in there on a more permanent basis?

Unless we find somebody to do the job that the Rathnew man has been doing at midfield for years then the answer to that question is a definite no.

A target man inside without a good supply of the ball would be of no help. Could McGraynor be the man?

Robert Lambert and John McGrath joined a very short list of Wicklow men to win a Sigerson Cup medal last week and both will now be available full time to Wicklow.

While we don't need a goalkeeper at the moment it is always nice to have one should the need arise – remember the day Mervyn Travers was injured in Tullamore?

McGrath, now that he has no other distractions, could very well become Wicklow's main striker up front.

Remember that a number of our players, particularly in defence, are just returning from the injury list.

Patrick McWalter is a key player but really he is only on the comeback trail. The same can be said for the full back Damien Power and even to a lesser extent Ciaran Hyland while Mick McLoughlin has missed some match time even this year.

Anthony McLoughlin's display at midfield has given us some hope but the selectors are still struggling to find best positions for players like Darren Hayden, Rory Finn and Dean Healy.

The one shining light this year has been goalkeeper John Flynn who must now be one of the top ball stoppers in Leinster.

The ever reliable players like Alan Byrne, Paddy Dalton and Darragh O'Sullivan can't go on forever but you may bet they are still very much in Harry's plans at the moment.

Without a doubt we need Stephen Chester Kelly back if only for his versatility, he can fit into so many positions with ease.

Other young players like Brendan McCrea, Paul McLoughlin, James Kelly, Luke Benson and Daniel Woods are coming on nicely but probably McCrea is the only one ready to take over a starting position at this moment in time.

We were all expecting big things from Wicklow in their first home games but now that pressure is off and the lads are free to play their own brand of football so let's see how they perform for the rest of the league.

One thing that Mick O'Dwyer always tried to do was to take the pressure off his players and at times it appeared to work.

A win at this stage would certainly give football in the county a great boost.

Wicklow People

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