Fin­ish­ing line in sight af­ter busy year

Bray People - - Bray Sport - with Peter Keogh

MICK HA­GAN is at last in sight of the fin­ish­ing line with his fix­tures pro­gramme and can ex­pect to bring down the cur­tain on a busy year in­side the next two weeks.

The week­end brought joy to two more clubs. An­nacurra, surely the un­luck­i­est club in Wick­low in re­cent years, at last got some re­ward for their labours when Michael O’Brien lifted the Tim­mins Cup on the Fair Green in Shil­le­lagh on Sun­day.

It was hard luck on Coolkenno to lose in the man­ner they did but no one could be­grudge An­nacurra a change of for­tunes.

The Der­rysiders have lost at least five fi­nals in re­cent years and for a proud club with a great tra­di­tion that hurt a lot. It was that hurt and that hunger that drove them on to victory on Sun­day.

In their eleven matches in the league An­nacurra lost only one, and that was away to Dunlavin.

And what about Fer­gal Og. A young club strug­gling to get a foothold in a cor­ner of Bray where Gaelic games were strug­gling.

This was their first big win in hurl­ing and while it may not have equalled a cham­pi­onship that fine Don O’Gor­man Cup, a fit­ting memo­rial to a great hurler, is still a nice tro­phy to have on the side­board.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Oliver O’Brien, a man who had bat­tled long and hard to es­tab­lish hurl­ing in his area.

And surely this win can give hurl­ing in the town of Bray an­other lift.

LADIES’ FOOT­BALL

While I come from a club that was in at the start up of ladies’ foot­ball in Wick­low I have to ad­mit that I don’t know as much about the game as I should.

So I was sur­prised, and very pleased, to learn that Wick­low had seven girls, no less, on the Un­der­dogs team to play Lon­don at the Lon­don Ir­ish rugby grounds on Satur­day

Ac­cord­ing to my source Amy Byrne and Mon­ica Lynch from An Tochar; Julie Fitz­mau­rice, Bless­ing­ton, Laura Ahearn and Coilin Deeney, Eire Og and Aoife Hef­fer­nan and Cather­ine Cor­bett fron Bray Em­mets will be do­ing their bit to keep Wick­low on the map at na­tional level. The game will be shown live on TG4 on Satur­day evening. Good luck girls.

FOOT­BALL STAN­DARDS

With the re­turn of Mick O’Dwyer to start an­other bid to lift our county teams to a new level, and the close of the cham­pi­onship sea­son this may be as good a time as any to take a hard look at the stan­dard of club foot­ball in the county.

Our Se­nior cham­pi­onship ran smoothly this year, we had a num­ber of good and very com­pet­i­tive matches and an ex­cel­lent county fi­nal

How­ever our county cham­pi­ons Kil­te­gan fell at the first hur­dle in Le­in­ster and we must face up to the fact that it is now five years since we had our last win in the Club Cham­pi­onship.

The In­ter­me­di­ate grade was also very com­pet­i­tive, as it al­ways is with again some top class matches but again when the cham­pi­ons Carnew stepped out­side the county the end re­sult was not what we might have hoped for.

Al­right we can make ex­cuses for both Kil­te­gan and Carnew. Both are dual clubs and have to pick their foot­ball and hurl­ing teams from the same panel of play­ers.

Both had to re­turn to a hurl­ing cham­pi­onship at a time when they should have be­ing build­ing up for Le­in­ster foot­ball action. That is just one of the haz­ards the dual club must take on. How­ever, that alone should not be al­lowed to cloud the fact that in re­cent years out per­for­mances in Le­in­ster has fallen short of what we might have ex­pected.

The Ju­nior foot­ball scene is not too promis­ing ei­ther. In fact this may be the first time ever when no Ju­nior club won a cham­pi­onship in any grade. New­cas­tle were the only Ju­nior club to reach a county fi­nal but they lost to a Kil­te­gan sec­ond string team in the A cham­pi­onship

In the Ju­nior B sec­tion it was two more Se­nior clubs – An Tochar and New­town that were left to fight it out for the hon­ours.

Even in the C grade it was third string teams from Kil­te­gan and Rath­new that con­tested the fi­nal.

If this lat­ter prob­lem was to con­tinue it could be very dam­ag­ing to the Ju­nior clubs and would call for dras­tic action.

In re­cent years the Ju­nior clubs, or some of them, have con­cen­trated on mo­tions to con­ven­tion to limit the num­ber of play­ers that can be re­graded in any one year.

At best it is a ques­tion­able road to go. It is de­signed to weaken the strong club by not al­low­ing them to re­struc­ture prop­erly at the start of the year and has done noth­ing for the Ju­nior club.

Why the re­stric­tion on re­grad­ing, and it only ap­plies in foot­ball, is wrong is that it hits the weak as well as the strong. With all, or most cham­pi­onships now played on a league sys­tem most clubs find that, be­cause of in­juries or ab­sen­tees they may have to use up a lot of play­ers – say up to 24 or 25 in a sea­son.

That could mean that a num­ber of play­ers will not get reg­u­lar matches, or in ex­treme cases no match at all the fol­low­ing year. That is one rea­son why we lose play­ers to other codes.

Clubs, all clubs, sim­ply must be al­lowed to re­struc­ture their play­ing num­bers at the start of the year.

In Kil­dare a few years ago they had a sys­tem where the sec­ond string team in the Se­nior club played a sep­a­rate Se­nior B Cham­pi­onship and that way they were not both­er­ing their Ju­nior neigh­bours at all

The Ju­nior cham­pi­onship was for Ju­nior clubs only and the sec­ond string team from the club played in the Ju­nior B cham­pi­onship. The same prin­ci­ple ap­plied in the In­ter­me­di­ate grade.

Do we need to bring in some­thing like that in Wick­low?

KIL­BRIDE/LACKEN PRE­SEN­TA­TION

The new Kil­bride/Lacken Ju­ve­nile club staged their first pre­sen­ta­tion func­tion in the South County Golf Club on Fri­day Night.

This was a ‘first’ in more ways than one and set stan­dards for a Ju­ve­nile func­tion that will be hard to match.

The club were cel­e­brat­ing their first year on the ju­ve­nile cir­cuit, their first county ti­tle in the U-12 Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship. It was also a first such func­tion by a Wick­low GAA Club in the posh sur­rounds of the South County while newly-elected Youth Of­fi­cer Damien Byrne was mak­ing his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance as a mem­ber of the top ta­ble.

The guests in­cluded GAA Am­bas­sador Leighton Glynn who ad­dressed the play­ers and pre­sented the cham­pi­onship medals; Pat Mitchell who made the key speech and pre­sented a book­let with full colour pic­tures and a write up of all 28 cham­pi­onship matches played by the team; Damien Byrne pre­sented a wall chart with a colour pic­ture of the team plus the re­sults of ev­ery match.

Ed­die Leonard, County Pres­i­dent Peter Keogh and for­mer foot­ball great and Rail­way Cup player Peter Clarke and his wife Mary were also among the guests. The Lacken end of the club was rep­re­sented bt Gerry O’Neill, Thomas Broe and Ken Balfe, while Paddy Byrne, Chair­man of the Kil­bride adult club was also in at­ten­dance.

Club Chair­man Liam Creighton was the MC for the night and all ar­range­ments were in the ca­pa­ble hands of the team man­ager Michael Re­naghan

An­other in­no­va­tion on the night was that the names of the 22 boys were drawn from the cup for the pre­sen­ta­tion rather than start­ing with the cap­tain and go­ing by the team list.

The panel: Peter Fitzsi­mons, Alan Jones, Hughie Walsh, Peter Mullen, Si­mon Creighton, Dar­ragh Ryan, Kieran Hayter, Richard Ward, Aaron Cur­ran, Eric Mur­phy, Shane Byrne, Aaron Re­naghan, Matthew Creighton, Gareth He­garty, Fi­achra Dil­lon, Zach Den­ni­son, Ross Shone, Conor Ryan, Eoin Gal­lagher, Conor Ryan, Calum Ash­more, Eoghan Keogh, Mark Re­naghan .

Dar­ragh Ryan was voted the play­ers ‘Player of the Year’ and re­ceived his tro­phy from Peter Clark.

The play­ers made a spe­cial pre­sen­ta­tion to the man­ager Michael Re­naghan, the driv­ing force be­hind the team .

Geral­dine Ryan was pre­sented with a bou­quet of flow­ers by Liam Creighton for her spe­cial work for the club dur­ing the year.

WEST JU­VE­NILES - U-14 FL FI­NAL

St Ni­cholas 8-9, St. Kevin’s 2-3: St Ni­cholas brought off the first leg of a great dou­ble in the West League Fi­nals when they beat St. Kevin’s in the U-14 foot­ball fi­nal at Bless­ing­ton on Satur­day.

This team had al­ready won the County B Cham­pi­onship and were only nar­rowly beaten by a great Balt­in­glass team in the A Fi­nal. So re­ally they were in a dif­fer­ent class.

How­ever, St. Kevin’s put up a brave bat­tle for most of the way and kept plug­ging away to the end.

St. Ni­cholas: Dara Fig­gis; Joseph Deer­ing, Louise Caplice, Emma Byrne; Alan O’Sul­li­van, Stephen Pierce, Bary Mi­ley; Daniel Daw­son (01), Paul Murtagh; Scott Phe­lan (0-2), An­drew How­erd (0-3), Conor Kelly; Ti­mothy Met­calfe (2-0), Kevin Kealy (3-3), Eoin Kelly.

St. Kevin’s: Paul Foster; Conor Burke, Em­mett Fen­nan, Ro­nan Bon­field; Paul Kelly, Cian Tyrrell, Ian Red­mond, Jamie Mi­ley, Seán Geoghe­gan; Thomas Kelly, Stephen Kear­ney, Mark Mi­ley; Shane Kelly, Seán O’Ke­effe, Lee Reid.

U-14 FL SEMI-FI­NAL

Strat­ford/Grange­con 2-10, Michael Dwyers 3-4: Strat­ford/Grange­con qual­i­fied to meet Aughrim An­nacurra in the fi­nal of the South/West U-14 B Foot­ball league with a good win over Michael Dwyers in Bless­ing­ton on Sun­day.

Great point kick­ing by Alan Nor­ton, Dou­glas Han­bidge and Seán Byrne kept Strat­ford/Grange­con in front through most of the first-half but Shane Len­non and Pádraig Byrne grabbed goals for ‘Dwyers to leave only two points be­tween the sides at half-time – 0-9 to 2-1.

An early goal by Christo­pher Han­bidge gave the Slaneysiders a nice cush­ion but Dwyers kept com­ing back

A goal by Dou­glas Han­bidge with five min­utes to go looked to have sealed the is­sue but Eoin Coogan hit back with a goal for Dwyers to in­sure this game went right down to the wire.

A num­ber of girls tak­ing part in this match are com­ing to the end of their time play­ing boys foot­ball. Lucy Cush and Miriam Sleator were prom­i­nent for Strat­ford while Anne Byrne starred in the ‘Dwyers half-back line.

Strat­ford/Grange­con: Bren­dan Kin­sella, Adam Doyle, Cor­mac Egan, Matthew Han­bidge; Matthew Man­ley (0-1), PJ McGrath, Nathan Whit­tle; Christo­pher Han­bidge (1-0), Lucy Cush; Seán O’Neill, Dou­glas Han­bidge, Dy­lan Browne; Miriam Sleator, Alan Nor­ton (0-4), Seán Byrne (0-2).

Michael Dwyers: Bill Ka­vanagh; Dar­ragh Byrne, Dar­ragh O’Ke­effe, Luke Byrne; Aine Byrne, Liam Byrne, Conor Doyle; Eoin Fitzger­ald (0-1), Ni­mai Blake; Eoin Coogan ( 1-2), James Byrne, Shane Len­non (1-1) Joe Byrne, Pádraig Byrne (1-0), Paul Mur­ray.

South West fix­tures still to come – Satur­day – U-14 B fi­nal – Strat­ford/Grange­con v. Aughrim/An­nacurra; Sun­day – U-12 B Semi-fi­nal – Kil­bride/Lacken v. Ti­na­hely; the 13th/14th – U-14 B League – Michael Dwyers v. Aughrim/An­nacurra.

HURL­ING HE­ROES

Any­one (bar Jackie Napier) no­tice the man they in­ter­viewed on RTE af­ter the Le­in­ster club fi­nal on Sun­day?.

He was Mau­rice Ayl­ward, the man­ager of the vic­to­ri­ous Bal­ly­hale Sham­rocks team who had just lifted the Le­in­ster crown.

The rea­son that Jackie spot­ted him was be­cause he re­mem­bered him play­ing for Wick­low in the Le­in­ster JHC fi­nal of 1966. Wick­low were go­ing for their third cham­pi­onship in a row that day but were beaten by Kil­dare.

To jog a few mem­o­ries Jackie had given us that team - Donal Breen (Barn­dar­rig), Jim Kearns (Avon­dale), Tommy Kelly (Rath­new), Billy Hil­lard (Carnew), Billy Mur­phy (Forestry), Oliver Cuddy (Forestry), Eu­gene McGuin­ness (Kil­coole), Liam Jor­dan (Avon­dale), Seán Doyle (Carnew), Billy Lee Avon­dale, Peter Dwyer (Forestry), Mick Hal­li­gan (Carnew), Nicky Scallan (Ark­low Gers), Liam Collins, Carnew, Mau­rice Ayl­ward (Forestry).

Larry Tal­lon came on a sub that day to join a num­ber of other dual county play­ers on that team.

Mau­rice Ayl­ward is a brother of Liam Ayl­ward MEP while his fa­ther was Bob Ayl­ward, Chair­man on Le­in­ster Coun­cil.

Billy Mur­phy won a Se­nior All Ire­land with Kilkenny three years later. Forestry Col­lege are long gone from the Wick­low scene while two other clubs rep­re­sented on that team – Rath­new and Ark­low Geraldines no longer play hurl­ing.

REF­ER­EES’ DIN­NER

On Fri­day night Andy O’Brien and the County Board host a din­ner for the ref­er­ees of the county in Laragh. A nice and well de­served ges­ture to a hard work­ing group of of­fi­cials who keep our games go­ing week in week out in all weathers all year.

Jimmy Bir­chall, Chair­man of the South/West Ju­ve­nile Board, presents the South/West Un­der-14 Cup to St. Ni­cholas cap­tain Kevin Kealy.

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