Wednesday 21 February 2018

'The gap between Dublin and the rest is widening'

Wicklow boss Murphy fears Sky Blues unbeatable in Leinster as conveyor belt of talent leaves rivals in wake

Wicklow boss Harry Murphy insists Leighton Glynn is 'as good as what's around on his day'. Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Wicklow boss Harry Murphy insists Leighton Glynn is 'as good as what's around on his day'. Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Wicklow football manager Harry Murphy admits the financial implications for taking Dublin games out of Croke Park are too great for the rest of Leinster to consider.

Murphy, speaking ahead of his side's Leinster first-round match with Laois in Aughrim tomorrow, accepts that even if they were to repeat their 1986 heroics they will meet a dead-end in the province when they face Dublin in a quarter-final on June 8.

But Murphy says the financial reality of Dublin playing every championship match in Croke Park since 2006 can't be avoided.

"You have to get them into Croke Park because they are keeping the whole thing going," he said.

"Realistically, they are the only one pulling the crowds, pulling the real crowds, the real money-spinning crowds.

"Ask any footballer – if we are lucky enough to play out of our skins to beat Laois, we probably know the outcome in Croke Park but we want to get there anyway.

RATTLE

"Every supporter in Wicklow wants to get in and have a rattle against the Dubs in Croke Park. I don't see anything wrong with playing the Dubs in Croke Park."

Murphy admits the gap between Dublin and the rest in the province is getting bigger and population growth is having a real effect.

"What do you do? Do you tell Dublin to stop producing footballers? There is a million and a half people. Their club structures are in good shape, they are going to be producing footballers – they are producing 20 footballers to one in Wicklow.

"Then they have the financial clout at the moment, a well run organisation, so the production line is coming all the time.

"That's not their fault and it's not necessarily our fault that we can't keep up with them But the gap is just getting bigger and bigger.

"Maybe the likes of Tyrone will give them a run, Cork, maybe Kerry, but there will be 24 teams that won't keep the ball kicked out to them. That's it realistically.

"How do you compete with them? Their U-21s, their full-forward line would probably walk on to any other county with the exception of Donegal. But they could walk on, en bloc, to probably 20 counties. And they may not get a run for the rest of the championship," added Murphy, now in his third year as manager.

"Whatever structures they set up a few years ago, they are definitely reaping the benefits, in hurling and football.

"The Dublin minor hurlers gave Kilkenny a going over. That's frightening too.

"I think Dublin are just going to get further and further and further away from us.

"And I'm not saying it was always the same. There was always only ever four or five teams that can win an All-Ireland but there was different teams every so often.

"Now it's getting to the stage when you have Mayo, Tyrone, Dublin, Cork and Kerry. When I was growing up as a kid you would have Roscommon or Offaly coming in and pushing it, Galway and Meath. But there was always someone else trying to get into that elite group."

Murphy admits to being disappointed by Wicklow's league campaign that saw them remain in Division 4 but finish on a high with a three-goal salvo to beat champions Tipperary.

"We let ourselves down against Leitrim in Aughrim. The day down in Clare, Leighton Glynn got sent off after four minutes. Ridiculous decision," he recalled.

"They responded well and we won five out of our seven games and we beat Tipperary on the last day of the season and they were by far the best team in the division.

"In fairness to the lads they kept going. They finished really strongly so that gave us a bit of confidence. With five minutes to go we were eight points down, then we got a goal and in injury-time we got another two goals. Crazy stuff.

"Credit to them they kept going and showed a bit of character. It was a good way to finish the league."

Glynn's return after almost two seasons out with a leg break and then subsequent complications has been uplifting.

"The bone healed quite quickly but he got an infection because the skin didn't heal over it," explained Murphy.

"He's back, the two games that we lost this year, we were without him, so that will just tell you how important he is to the whole set up. He's a leader, the lads look up to him. He's as good as what's around on his day.

"He's hugely committed, there are no airs or graces about him."

Irish Independent

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