O'Brien's Garden Party; O'BYRNE CUP DUBLIN V WICKLOW KEVIN: THOMAS WILL BE BACK TO BOLSTER WICKLOW

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Byline: BY PAT NOLAN

WICKLOW selector Kevin O'Brien insists Thomas Walsh will return to the county panel - though not in time for tomorrow's O'Byrne Cup quarter-final with Dublin.

Speculation of late has suggested that Walsh is on the verge of returning to his native Carlow, with new boss Luke Dempsey making no secret of his determination to entice him back to play alongside his brother Patrick.

However, Dempsey's predecessor Paul Bealin made similar noises last year but ultimately Walsh lined out in the Wicklow colours for a second consecutive season and O'Brien expects to see him back for a third.

He said: "Thomas is like most players, he's been taking a break over Christmas. I believe he had the flu last week so I'm sure Thomas will be back and that's the most important thing.

"I think any county in the country would like to have someone like Thomas Walsh, we have great time for him, he's a big strong player and when he's ready to come back we'll be delighted to have him back."

However he added: "He won't be involved against Dublin, no. A couple of other players are injured and won't be involved so it's not just Thomas."

In the meantime, the bulk of the side that ironically beat Carlow in last Sunday's opening round game will feature once again tomorrow.

"We have a couple of lads away on holidays, the Kiltegan players that won the county Championship.

Seanie Furlong won't be there.

"We had six debutants last weekend and we brought on two subs that were debutants. They're starting football careers with Wicklow and we're very happy with them."

And against a weakened Dublin team that will feature 10 under-21 players it represents a decent opportunity for Wicklow to claim a rare win over their neighbours.

"We're not worrying about what team Dublin put out," O'Brien stated.

"We're worrying about our own lads and hopefully they can stand up to it. It's a great challenge, especially when they play Dublin and we're looking forward to it. It's a good trip for them and a good experience for a lot of them. …