The two teams meet this Saturday evening in Portlaoise
The Leinster Football Championship begins this weekend with three matches.
Though I’m writing this from a remove in Dublin, I’m not sure exactly how excited the six counties that are involved are given the three winning teams will have no chance of capturing their provincial title. It all begins with a double header on Saturday in Portlaoise and then a clash between Offaly and Longford in Tullamore on Sunday.
Even if it's sunny in the Midlands, the shadow of Dublin looms large on every game in the provincial championships. Denis Connerton of Longford and Laois manager Mick Lillis have already admitted regardless of what they do, the Dubs already have it wrapped up.
My colleague Colm Parkinson who’ll be on analysis duty for Off the Ball's live match in O’Moore Park between Laois and Wicklow thinks that’s not a smart thing to do, however I applaud the realistic nature of their remarks.
Wicklow manager Johnny Magee doesn’t make any attempt to hide his frustration at Dublin's dominance on and off the pitch – although he lays no blame on the Dublin county board or team. Magee just wants equality and says that every county should get the same chance Dublin does in a resource sense.
The former Dublin defender says it’s not just up to Croke Park to swoop in and organise the structures, adding that Roscommon are a good example of putting work into the underage section and reaping the rewards. He adds that GAA HQ need to examine the Rossies and the Dubs' structure and help other counties put something similar in place. The Kilmacud Crokes man says that it should not just be up to the county board to put structures in place and Croke Park should play a more active role in counties and maybe then they’d catch up with Dublin.
The lower league counties may have some chance if they could keep their squads together, however that proved difficult according to Magee. The manager admits that the prospect of just two games in the Summer is not enough to entice young Wicklow men to reject a Summer of football and fun in the USA.
"Every player has a right to be dreaming of winning All-Irelands, because it’s an amateur organisation should it be the case where your from determines that you don’t get as much coverage, as much funding or as much help?"
So what about the game itself? "Are they looking at us or are they looking at Dublin behind us?" Magee asks of Laois, whom he thinks may already be focusing on the next opponents. "If our players turn up and perform to their potential we’ll beat Laois but it won’t be handed to us we’re going to have to work for it".
Like their manager, expect Wicklow to be determined and ready this weekend. A win against Laois might be seen as some as a shock but given the O’Moore's defensive frailties and Wicklow's ability to cause it shock it could well be Wicklow who face Dublin in Nowlan Park on Saturday, June 4th.
The game is live on Off the Ball this Saturday evening. Throw-in is at 7pm.