Wicklow began their post Mick O’Dwyer competitive era in Freshford on Sunday in the National Football League and new manager Harry Murphy and his players will surely realise that things are going to get a lot more competitive from now on.
The Garden County have a decent team, but it was impossible to assess its capabilities against a Kilkenny side that was ill-prepared for this opening League tie.
A lack of regular football was at the heart of Kilkenny’s problems. In every facet of the play the players were second to their opponents, and it was a chastening experience for everyone.
The effort from Kilkenny was commendable. The players kept battling to the finish. From the outset, though, it was a damage limitation exercise to keep the Wicklow scoring down.
Kilkenny’s best period came late in the first half when they scored 1-1. A couple of chances from close-in frees dropped short.
Collective training was not an option for the side before the beginning of the year, but the County Board has invested heavily in an impressive gym in Nowlan Park. I wonder how many of the players took the opportunity to use those facilities.
Perhaps they were not asked!
Kilkenny, for whatever reason, opted out of the O’Byrne Cup in January, giving a walk-over to Louth. The Cats would in all probability not have beaten the Wee County, but it would have afforded the team another competitive outing in the O’Byrne Shield.
Those two games would surely have helped the side prepare for the opening National League tie against Wicklow.