St. Pat’s midfielder Dean Healy has been named as the captain of the Wicklow senior footballers for the 2019 season, describing it as a “great honour to receive and one that myself, family and club hold in high regard”.
Healy will be taking over as skipper from Kiltegan’s Seanie Furlong, eight years on from receiving his first senior call-up at the age of 19 under the stewardship of Mick O’Dwyer
After establishing himself in the county set-up under Harry Murphy in 2012 — a season in which Wicklow earned promotion to division three — Healy became captain in 2015, winning senior county footballer of the year the same year.
His return to the captaincy comes on the back of a successful 2018 at club level, with Dean leading Pat’s to their first senior football championship since 2012 in October, before winning senior county footballer of the year in December.
Speaking to WicklowNews about being reinstated to the role, Healy described it as a “great honour”, and that he was looking forward to leading the side into the new season.
“The panel and management have been working hard in the off season preparing for the National Football League, and we are all fully committed and focused to lifting Wicklow football in 2019” he said.
“I am personally looking forward to leading the team and hope my performances are what are required to do so. There is great experience in the panel and also youth and I am looking forward to seeing the likes of Gearóid Murphy, Podge, Whacker, Chris O’Brien, Darragh Fitz in the year ahead.
“They are unbelievable talents but require patience and support in order to flourish and reach their full potential.”
The pre-season O’Byrne Cup campaign has been bittersweet for the Garden County, having lost all three games — including a last-minute 2-11 to 2-10 defeat to Laois this past weekend — despite encouraging performances against Longford and the aforementioned Laois.
Irrespective of the results, Healy insisted that the work that has been put in over the winter period has been encouraging.
“Pre-season has been good, there has been a serious amount of work both on and off the field. People outside the set up don’t really understand magnitude of the effort and commitment that goes with being involved in an inter-county set up.
“We were unfortunate not to come away with a result in Longford, we had double figures of wides in the first-half which ultimately cost us only losing by a point, we realistically should’ve been out of sight at half-time. Given the weather, it was never going to be a high-scoring game.
“Louth was most disappointing and we put a lot of work into analyzing what went wrong. We never got up to the pace of the game and didn’t hit any of our targets set.
“The Laois game had a number of positives, we were two points up with a few minutes remaining and let in a goal at the death but still created a chance to level it, albeit the ref ended up throwing up the ball given the confusion of the new rules.
“Our performance was up around what we expect and demand of each other and we are fully focused on Waterford now.”
Wicklow kick-off their 2019 league season away to Waterford on Saturday, the 26th of January in Division Four of the Allianz National Football League. Throw-in at Fraher Field in Dungarvan is at 7pm.