'They bullied us' -- Wicklow manager Murphy reflects on Royal rumble

“We just didn’t have the strength. Meath were the better side,” concluded the Garden County chief yesterday evening.

The Wicklow boss at Dr Cullen Park yesterday.
The Wicklow boss at Dr Cullen Park yesterday.
Image: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

IT’S A FAIR sign of what Harry Murphy has achieved with Wicklow that this was seen as a major disappointment.

Not even in the time of Micko were the county ever so expectant against such a big name, and while that was partly because of Meath’s own form coming into there Leinster SFC clash yesterday, it was partly because of Wicklow’s too.

Division Four champions was all well and good but there was form and quality to go with that. There was expectation as well.

There were so many what ifs muttered by those that had ventured across the hills and into Dr Cullen Park. What if James Stafford dominates midfield? What if Leighton Glynn gets moving and dancing and jinking? What if Seanie Furlong has a big day? What if we can say we were there?

Yet none of that happened and all the hope that came from an early burst slowly drained away, first in drips, then in torrents, and by the end of it they were left with an empty feeling.

“We started quite well but Meath’s power came into it,” said Wicklow manager Murphy after the 16 point to 0-11 defeat.

“They’re big all over the place. When they started coming at us we didn’t have much in defence. They took over midfield, Graham Reilly killed us coming at us all day. We just didn’t have the strength. Meath were the better side. We couldn’t have asked for any better but when they came at us we had no answer to them. They bullied us in the second half. We had a few chances near the end but realistically Meath were the better side. Coming into this we were performing well all year but we couldn’t compete. They weren’t just midfielders they had, they had big men all over the field. We just hadn’t the physique.”

Nor the preparation, according to Murphy, who looked back on Division Four as a negative place as much as winning it was a brief positive. “We performed well in Division Four,” he noted.

“But it was Division Four. People said they performed terribly in Division Two but they got wins in it too and were unlucky to lose to Kildare and Galway. You have to look at the size and the power that they have, they had a few injuries too. If they get [Stephen] Bray and these boys back who is to say what they can achieve? It’s only a few years ago that they put five past Dublin.

They’re going to be contenders now that they have this out of the way. This was a potential banana skin for them but it was a fair few steps up the ladder in terms of what we’ve played against all year.”

Just as it’ll be a fair few steps before Wicklow are moving with the same sort of confidence they came into this game with. It’s a lonely old wait for the qualifiers and even when that’s over, Leighton Glynn may not be around as Murphy confirmed he had gone to hospital with his leg wrapped up and there was a fear of an ankle break. “They are a fair lump of a team, big men all over the place. They could have a lot to say in this championship,” concluded Murphy.

“Unfortunately for us we have to wait five weeks.”

About the author:

Ewan MacKenna

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