‘Wouldn’t it be great for Wicklow to have the Dubs in Aughrim?’

Rathnew manager Harry Murphy has called on the Leinster Council to give Wicklow the opportunity to pull off their own Aughrim ambush next summer.

Murphy steered raging underdogs Rathnew to a famous AIB Leinster club championship win over Dublin kingpins St Vincent’s on Sunday.

There’s an outside shot the county team could also get a chance to host Dublin’s finest at the picturesque Garden County venue next May.

The Leinster Council will meet tomorrow evening to decide exactly where Dublin’s first defence of their All-Ireland title should take place in 2018.

Wicklow chairman Martin Coleman has already stated that they want to host the Dubs at their 8,500 capacity ground, providing they beat Offaly first.

But only Nowlan Park, Portlaoise, and Offaly’s Tullamore base were considered realistic options to host Jim Gavin’s team in the last two years. The Leinster Council could also decide that it might be better to return Dublin to Croke Park, where they started all their campaigns between 2007 and 2015.

“Wouldn’t it be great for Wicklow football to have the Dubs in Aughrim?” said former Wicklow manager Murphy.

“And if it was Carlow they were playing I’d say the same, play it in Carlow.

“Or if Leitrim are playing them, then play them in Carrick-on-Shannon.

“Whoever is playing the Dubs, not in the latter stages but in the early rounds, get the Dubs down.

“Now I don’t think we’d beat Dublin if we played them in my kitchen — but get the Dubs down and get the kids of Wicklow in to see them and to promote the game in the weaker counties.”

Murphy has a useful knack of guiding Wicklow teams to success at the expense of Dublin sides.

He was in charge of Rathnew in 2001 when they beat a star studded Na Fianna side after a replay to win the Leinster title.

And he was also the first inter-county manager to get the better of Jim Gavin when Wicklow beat Dublin in the 2013 O’Byrne Cup.

New Wicklow boss John Evans might get the opportunity to pit his wits against Gavin on May 26/27 next.

“It was a great win for Rathnew and I’m sure John Evans is saying, ‘if we can get that belief into the county team it will give everybody a boost’,” said Murphy. “And if we can just get over Offaly, we might have the Dubs here.”

Murphy acknowledged that Rathnew’s shock win over holders Vincent’s has blown the provincial club championship wide open.

Bookmakers have responded by installing Luke Dempsey’s St Loman’s as title favourites with Rathnew still the long odds outsiders at 4/1.

They’ll be optimistic of upsetting those odds again though face a battle hardened Moorefield on Sunday week.

“We probably shouldn’t be because one swallow never made a summer but we’ll probably be favourites going in to play Moorfield,” said Murphy. “But Moorefield gave us a bit of a tapping a couple of years ago.

“Look, to be still playing at this time of the year in a Leinster semi-final, for a club of our size, we’d take that any day of the week.

“But I won’t get carried away. You’re not going to get me to say we’ll win it now!

“Moorefield are a quality side, they’re always knocking around. They had a great win over Portlaoise.”

Rathnew’s supporters gathered outside the changing rooms in Aughrim on Sunday evening and cheered their heroes after a famous four-point win. James Stafford’s late 1-2 changed the game and took down many people’s All-Ireland favourites.

Murphy admitted it brought memories of 2001 flooding back when Rathnew beat Na Fianna to win Leinster.

“Na Fianna at that time had Kieran McGeeney and a lot of top-class footballers,” he said.

“We played a bit of champagne football that day as well in injury-time. Anytime you have the Dublin champions chasing shadows there in the last four or five minutes, that’s some achievement. We’re over the moon with it. But it was the battling spirit that got us through. We can all play football when we have the ball. But it’s when we hadn’t got the ball that we worked very, very hard.

“Each one of our lads played a part, that’s all you can ask for.”


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