Football the winner in thrilling final
ONE THING everyone agreed on after the county final had ended in Aughrim on Sunday – it was the greatest match in years. No matter what colours you wearing, no matted whether you were a St Patrick’s fan, a Kiltegan fan or just a neutral, out for the day you had to enjoy that game of football
The football was top class, it was a great contest, the scores were level five times – and the sportsmanship was outstanding.
Mick O’Dwyer and Arthur French were in attendance and both were highly impressed with the standard of football and thoroughly enjoyed the match. There were many others present from neighbouring Counties and all were full of praise for the football and the level of organisation.
Football was the only winner on the day
Planned celebrations in both camps had to be put on hold for another day.
The Championship sponsor Eugene Dooley, not entirely neutral, was also happy with the result. Another day out will be a bonus for everyone and if the entertainment is as good next Sunday all sides will be happy.
THE MINOR GAME
The minor final did not quite live up to expectations but none the less was also very enjoyable. With so many talented players on both sides we were expecting more – perhaps too much.
P.J.Cunningham and his Bray Emmets team were not complaining.
They had brought off a rare Minor double, taking the Hurling title some week’s back with a win over the specialists Carnew and now beating the Champions Blessington in the Football
This victory will surely give the game another huge boost in our biggest centre of population and do good for the game where it is needed most.
The good days may be on the way back by the banks of the Dargle.
THE DUAL PLAYER
The Bray Emmets win also has to be a badly needed boost for the much maligned dual player. They are a vanishing race and everywhere you turn you meet someone ready to write their obituary.
While pressure at the top level is great and many young men find themselves having to make the difficult choice people like P.J.Cunningham continue to prove that at Club level at least it is still possible to keep the two games going One great Hurling man I knew, Brian Graham from Kiltegan always maintained that the constant need to switch training from Hurling to Football helped to keep a team fresh
THE JUBILEE TEAM
One of the most successful innovations of recent years has been honouring the Champions of 25 years ago with a Jubilee presentation on Co Final day.
The great Blessington team of 1983 was the team honoured on Sunday in Aughrim. As always they got a change to march behind the Band once again before being introduced to the crowd and receive a presentation from Co Chairman Andy O’Brien.
The Captain of the team Pat 0’Toole travelled from New York to be present and was meeting up with old comrades he had not met in years
The Blessington Club put on their own celebrations on Saturday night when the world and his wife turned up in the Ardnode Hotel in Ballymore to honour the team.
Everyone that was anyone in the community were there. Former President Jack Boothman and his wife Nula headed the list of dignitaries ; Co Chairman Andy O’Brien and his wife Ann; Margaret Allen, the President of the Ladies Football board; Rev Leonard Ruddock; Fr Tim Murphy were other guests present. Frank Byrne, the Chairman of the Club in ’83 was the very able Master of Cermonies. Others Officers from way back like Paddy Hendrick, Gerry McEntee, and Frank Flkannagan were present.
The present Chairman JP Moran and Secretary Chris McGee/O’Connor headed the organising committee.
In 1983 that talented bunch of lads brought off an unusual double. When they had ‘Miley’ safely tucked away in the home town of the donor they turned their attention to Hurling and won the Junior Championship – not bad for a town with no tradition in the game.
The Club also took the opportunity to honour the Ladies Football team who have brought a lot of trophy’s to the town in recent years. The Club was formed 15years ago and won their first Championship ten years ago.
Presentations were made to the Ladies by Paddy O’Connor and one of the ladies to receive a presentation was his Wife, Chris McGee/O’Connor.
One very high profile player who was back to meet her former colleagues was Cathrenia Grace who made her own piece of history be Captaining the Kilkenny team to win a Junior All Ireland Football final two years ago.(who was it said the Cats could not kick football)
Other players who served the Club in the Eighties but have since left the area included Wexford man Tommy Murphy. Carlow man Seán Ahearn and Aughrim man Padraig Keenan.
The Longest serving Club member Pete Nolan and his wife Nora were also among the Guests.
MICKO IS BACK
Mick O’Dwyer and Arthur French made their return to Wicklow on Sunday to launch the 09 campaign.
They had a meeting with top officers of the County board in the County Buildings Aughrim on Sunday before watching St Patrick’s and Kiltegan do battle for the Miley Cup.
Afterwards Micko was full of enthusiasm and fired up for another bid to lift Wicklow football to a new level.
While new laws dictate that he may have to shelve plans for an early start to training he will still be swinging into action behind the scenes. He is expected to have his back room team in place shortly and when that is done the next step will be to select a panel of players for the new season.
It has long been a matter of some regret that Players who have given a lot to the County Teams in both Hurling and Football, and got a fair bit of enjoyment out of doing it often drift away after their retirement and are lost to the Association.
In a bid to remedy that the Coaching and games Development Committee have sent out an invitation to such players to attend a meeting in the County Buildings in Aughrim on Thursday night.
In a letter to the former players the Secretary Martin Coleman points out this is based on a very successful Kilkenny model where past players are invited to a special gathering highlighting the work with county U- 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and Minor teams in Hurling and Football. We hope to ascertain if any of our past players wound be in a position of giving something back, by helping with these teams. Full training at Foundation and Level 1 coaching will be provided to all interested people and the necessary back-up and support provided by the county board
The meeting will be addressed by Mick O’Dwyer and Kilkenny Hurler DJ Carey.
Martin adds that he does not want the letter to turn anyone off. Come along on the night, he says, and find out more about our programme. We are not looking for a major commitment from any past player. If you could make yourself available for 8 – 10 sessions per year it would be a tremendous help with the development of our young players. They love to meet great players of the past. We can put you onto a rota so as not to put too much demand on any player
Our players will be divided into district teams and will play each other with a view to forming a County panel. If you could do, say about five sessions with a District squad it would add so much value to our preparations.
Please come along on the night and find out more. You may even renew old friendships with players that have wore the Wicklow jersey with you. Refreshments will be served on the night and the meeting will last 45 minutes in total. Remember - this Thursday night in Aughrim starting at 8.pm sharp.
A BROADCAST FROM A TREE TOP
What lengths would you go to to get a seat at an All Ireland Final?. What prompted the question was a letter from my friend Anne Carpenter who was returning from taking part in the sponsored walk for the Guide Dogs association in Spain last week when she picked up an article in ‘Cara’, the Air Lingus magazine, and passed it on. It was all about a man who went to great lengths – and great heights – to even get to listen to the voice of Michael O’Heither broadcasting at All Ireland final.
The man in question was great Cavan corner back Bill Doonan, the man who later replaced Big Tom O’Reilly at right full back on the Cavan Team.
The year was 1943 and Cavan and Roscommon were playing in the All Ireland final.
Bill Doonan was in the British Army at the time and was fighting a World Way in far away Southern Italy on that September Sunday.
The battle for Monte Casino was raging but there was a lull in the fighting on the Sunday and Bill, a Radio Officer, went missing.
His worried commander sent out a search party and they eventually found him in what looked like a trance in a tree top on a steep hillside.
After mush effort and experimentation, Private Doonan had managed to home in on Radio Eireann and was listening to the voice of Michael O’hEiethir from Croke Park.
Not in the least worried about a shell or a stray bullet, and not even complaining about not having a comfortable seat.
The war over and things back to normal, Bill, a son of a travelling family, went on to win two all Irelands medals himself, one in 1947 in the polo grounds in New York when Cavan beat Kerry and in 1948 when they beat Mayo in Croke park.
* That story came originally from Brendan O’hEithir’ book – ‘Over the Bar’ and Brendan adds – ‘If anyone ever asks you what the GAA is all about just think of Bill Doonan, the wanderer, on that hillside in Italy in the middle of a Word War.
Our ‘Get well’ wishes this week to a great Wicklow player of the past Paschal Deering from Dunlavin.
Paschal has many claims to fame on the Football field. He first came to public notice when he played in the first ever Dublin/Wicklow mans Cup final and although Newtown won that match the Dunlavin midfielder was presented was voted player of the match and was presented with the match Ball by another great Gael of the day, Joe Dunne of Newtown.
Paschal was on the Wicklow team in Croke Park on the day of ‘The long Count’ – a team that many still regard as one of the best ever. He played at centre half forward in front of a great mid field pairing of Jim Rogers and Johnny Kenny.
Get well quick Paschal – there is another great year coming up.
And while we are on that 1954 team can we say Hello to the man who Captained that team Shem Furlong, still hale and hearty in Wicklow town.
When a long White Limousine drove into the County Grounds in Aughrim on Sunday and pulled up at the door of the Buildings there was a rush of curious onlookers to see whom the dignitaries might be.
To the great surprise of everyone the man receiving the VIP treatment was none other than Eddie Leonard.
It was Eddie’s 50th birthday and the treat was organised by his wife with some help from his friend Pat Mitchell
Eddie was taken totally by surprise when the limo pulled up at his house in Pebble Bay, Wicklow on Sunday.
Pat Mitchell revealed afterwards that his biggest job was keeping Eddy ath ome at his house until it was time for the journey to Aughrim.
One man in the news for all the right reasons this week is Leighton Glynn.
On Saturday night he was due in the Jury/Croke Park hotel to pick up the ‘Star’ man of the match award for his display in the Wicklow v Kildare match.
Leighton was down with flue and was unable to travel. However his Award was picked up by his mother Phil
Then came the news that he had been selected on the ‘Ireland’ panel for the trip to Australia. Congratulations on the double Leighton.