Murphy has Garden men on their toes ahead of Royals visit
KEEP your concentration – you saw what happened when you let it slip in the last two games against Meath.
That will be the instruction from Wicklow manager Harry Murphy to his team prior to sending them out against Meath in the Leinster quarter-final in Aughrim on Sunday.
Wicklow led Meath by five points in the opening half of last year's first-round tie in Dr Cullen Park, but lost their way before half-time, allowing the Royals to recover and launch a winning drive (0-16 to 0-11)
Wicklow trailed Meath by two points after 30 minutes in the Division 3 clash in Aughrim last February, but conceded four points before half-time to leave them facing a deficit they never looked like reeling in throughout the second half (0-16 to 0-8).
"If you give a team like Meath the chances, they will punish you. They can do a lot of damage in a few minutes. We know that from last year and again from the league game this year. We missed several good chances from frees in the league, which we wouldn't normally do. That cost us dearly. And last year, we lost Leighton Glynn early in the second half, which was a massive blow to us," said Murphy.
They certainly have the luck of the draw this time as Meath have to head to Fortress Aughrim, a ground which claimed another championship victim last month when Wicklow beat Longford in the Leinster first round.
Despite playing opponents who were a division higher in the NFL, Wicklow put down an early marker and, after leading by four points at half-time, went on to win by two points.
Seanie Furlong scored 1-5 (1-4 from play), underlining just how dangerous he can be if he gets the right supply.
"Seanie's going well, but you need everyone going well to win a championship game. If everyone is on their game, it makes it hard on the opposition," said Murphy.
He was especially pleased with the dogged manner in which Wicklow dug in when Longford came back at them in the second half, but realises it's a level of pressure they can expect for the full 70 minutes against Meath.
"Meath are good at that. They had a very good league and after beating us in Aughrim early on, will be fairly confident of doing it again. We just have to make it as hard as possible for them all the way," said Murphy.
The Garden County will have the majority of the crowd behind them and that can count for quite a lot.
Wicklow are seeking to reach the Leinster semi-final for the first time since 1995.