Murphy ensures all is rosy in the Garden

They made huge strides under Mick O’Dwyer and now the Wicklow footballers are demonstrating their development is continuing after the departure of the Waterville maestro.

A fortnight ago they clinched promotion to Division 3 by chiselling out a victory against Clare and then claimed the Division 4 silverware on Saturday night in Croke Park when defeating Fermanagh.

Success provides a perfect pre-championship tonic, and for new boss Harry Murphy it marked the culmination of a highly satisfactory spring campaign. Trawling the county for new talent has turned up significant finds for the Rathnew man.

Murphy explained: “Micko assembled a lovely group of footballers but there were a few who had slipped through the net and weren’t playing. We went around and gave everyone the chance to come back in. We’re very happy with it and got a great performance from them on Saturday.

“We knew we were going to have to work savage hard. We had a great start but Fermanagh did the same to us earlier in the year. They came at us like a train and were just cutting through us continuously until we tightened up.”

Wicklow led 2-6 to 0-3 after 17 minutes and were full value for that advantage. Seanie Furlong, Leighton Glynn and John McGrath all demonstrated their threats early on with Furlong and corner-back Ciarán Hyland both goaling to inject confidence into their charges.

Yet Fermanagh roused themselves before the break. Corner-forward Tomas Corrigan was outstanding and it was his superb vision that helped set up a goal from midfielder Eoin Donnelly. Corrigan, the son of former county boss Dominic, then took charge in the scoring department and his good work had cut the gap to two points (2-8 to 1-9) at the break.

But Wicklow took charge in the second half. They quelled the threat of Seamus Quigley and were inspired by some powerful midfield play from James Stafford and Rory Finn.

Peter Canavan’s debut season on the senior sidelines has been a tremendous success and the Tyrone legend has vowed to learn from Saturday’s defeat. “We’ll reflect and have a good look at it again. There were various things that worked and things I am pleased about.

“Other aspects we need to brush up on, no doubt. In terms of positives, we should learn a lot as it was played at a good pace and good intensity.

“It was a very worthwhile experience and good preparation for us for the championship.

“We’ll examine ourselves and some of the boys will look at themselves and a number of our boys were out on their feet for the last five minutes of that game and they weren’t prior to this. The game was played at a faster pace and it was a bigger pitch too, so it was a good wake up coming up to the championship.”

Scorers for Wicklow: S Furlong 1-5 (0-3f), T Hannon 0-4 (0-1f), C Hyland 1-0, R Finn 0-3, J Stafford, L Glynn 0-2 each.

Scorers for Fermanagh: E Donnelly 1-0, T Corrigan 0-3, S Quigley 0-2 (0-2f), P Ward (0-1f), D Kille, E Maguire, B Mulrone, C Quigley, D Keenan 0-1 each.

Subs for Wicklow: P Burke for O’Sullivan (49), P Earls for McGrath (63).

Subs for Fermanagh: B Owens for McGovern (half-time), D Kille for Jones (49), M McGrath for Mulrone (53), P Ward for Maguire (53).

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford).

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