Micko happy with Garden effort

NEVER was the ‘Dwyer’ effect more apparent than last Saturday night.

Not only did he take Wicklow to within a whisker of an All-Ireland quarter-final but he did it in O’Moore Park, another of his old stomping grounds, and at a time when the hosts are in a state of disarray.

Tonight, the Laois board will meet to discuss the disintegrating fortunes of their senior football team, one which O’Dwyer brought to its first and only Leinster title since 1947, six years ago.

By the time O’Dwyer left Laois he had seen his methods questioned, written off as obsolete in some quarters, but the O’Moore county’s fortunes have merely plummeted since his departure while Wicklow’s have soared.

Even in defeat the disparities between Laois and Wicklow this summer were gargantuan. While Laois shipped a 15-points defeat to Kildare in the Leinster semi-final, Wicklow never even contemplated throwing in the towel.

One vignette deep into injury-time said it all. Alan Smith had just scored the goal to finally kill the game as a contest but, when Eamonn Callaghan had a chance to add a late point, Dara O hAnnaidh launched himself in to block.

It was an honourable gutsy defeat.

“It certainly was,” said O’Dwyer. “We pushed them to the very end. We had the chances there coming near the end. We got a free and there was another chance about 30 yards out and we missed both of them. They were the chances that changed the game but, you know, there was nothing much in it.

“It could have gone any way. We certainly got the chances in the second half and we didn’t put them away. The one thing I must say about this Wicklow side is they played marvellous football. They gave it their all and no more can you ask from any team.”

Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. Though they scored two goals, they left at least another three behind either side of the break, with Dean Odlum and Paul Earls denied by a combination of defender, goalkeeper and woodwork.

“We could have got two goals but that’s part and parcel of the game and you have to accept it, ” said O’Dwyer. “Overall, I thought our fellas played very well but that’s a good Kildare team. I think they’ll take a fair bit of beating in the championship. They’re physically a strong side.

“Maybe they should have taken points because points win games but the goals were on at the time and it’s hard to blame them for going for them. If they had taken their points more than likely we would have won it but overall we’re quite happy. We put up a great performance, they’re a young side.”

They weren’t helped by a second-half free count that, at one point, stood eleven to two against them but not all of Marty Duffy’s decisions were unwarranted, not by a long shot.

“Referees make decisions,” said O’Dwyer. “We can’t do anything about that, can we? You have to accept their decisions. Some of them I’d wonder about but, however, that’s part and parcel of the game. You have to accept that but on the day Kildare were that little bit better. There wasn’t much in it. It could have finished in a draw quite easily.”

So, what now after a top12 finish in this All-Ireland series? Will the maestro stay on in the Garden and nurture further the buds he has helped blossom over the last two years? “Sure you never know with Mick O’Dwyer. Anything can happen with that man,” he said before adding later that he is sure to be involved somewhere, somehow when the wheel turns full circle into summer again next year.

Thank God for that.

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