Glenealy re­tain their crown

GAELIC GAMES MARK KENNEDY LOOKS BACK ON THE WICK­LOW HURL­ING CHAM­PI­ONSHIPS

Bray People - - Sports -

ONE OF the wel­come de­vel­op­ments on the hurl­ing scene in Wick­low in 2008 was the re­turn of Ark­low Rock Par­nell to the Se­nior hurl­ing fold af­ter an ab­sence of sev­eral years.

In the 1970s and 1980s the Ark­low men were on the top of the cham­pi­onship pile along­side Carnew and so their re-emer­gence as a Se­nior side has kin­dled hope that they may once again broaden the com­pet­i­tive base of the cham­pi­onship at Se­nior level.

For the last two decades Se­nior hurl­ing in Wick­low has been shack­led in the re­stric­tive clutches three clubs – Kil­te­gan who held sway in the 1990s to win six ti­tles; Carnew and Glenealy who have shared the cham­pi­onship ti­tles of this decade be­tween them.

Ev­ery year in re­cent times it has been a vir­tual fore­gone con­clu­sion that the fi­nal will be con­tested by one or other com­bi­na­tion of the big three – thus the emer­gence first of Bray Em­mets and then Ark­low Rock Parnells stirs new hope that the cham­pi­onship will be re-in­vig­o­rated by the ar­rival of new teams on the block.

How­ever, Bray and Ark­low Rocks still have some way to go to catch up with the three big hit­ters of Wick­low hurl­ing; for the mo­ment, to­gether with Avon­dale and Kil­coole, they fill cameo roles to the big stars of the Wick­low hurl­ing scene.

Thus it was no sur­prise re­ally that once more the bat­tle for cham­pi­onship and league glory in the county ef­fec­tively rested be­tween Carnew, Glenealy and Kil­te­gan, with the lat­ter team not as strong con­tenders as hereto­fore due to the fact that they de­cided to con­cen­trate their big­gest ef­fort on winning the foot­ball ti­tle for the first time in 22 years.

Be­fore a slio­thar was struck in anger Carnew and Glenealy were the choice of most shrew pun­dits to be the teams to face up to each other in the league sec­tion and cham­pi­onship proper and peo­ple were not dis­ap­pointed in their choice.

Carnew were out to top­ple old ri­vals Glenealy from their throne while the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons were equally res­o­lute to bridge a 50year gap to the last time a club put back-to-back ti­tles to­gether in Se­nior hurl­ing.

And it fell to Carnew to draw first blood in the league sec­tion. With ti­tles al­ter­nat­ing be­tween the clubs this decade Robert Doyle’s men lifted the league ti­tle with an un­beaten run that in­cluded a 1-13 to 1-10 win over Glenealy and a walk-over from foot­ball fo­cussed Kil­te­gan.

As league cham­pi­ons Carnew went straight through the cham­pi­onship fi­nal. Glenealy had to earn their right of pas­sage to the de­cider, set­ting up an­other head-to-head with Carnew with a rather decisive 1-19 to 1-10 win over Kil­te­gan in the semi.

The fi­nal went to a re­play, con­fir­ma­tion that there is rarely more than a puck of a ball be­tween th­ese teams at any time. Both teams pro­duced hurl­ing of high in­ten­sity and skill and that de­spite the fact that the re­play was played in aw­ful weather con­di­tions.

A fea­ture of both games, draw and re­play, was the mar­vel­lous ex­hi­bi­tions of scor­ing by Don Hy­land for Carnew and Jonathan O’Neill, for Glenealy. This was one of the best years of hurl­ing by Jonathan O’Neill and it cul­mi­nated in be­ing se­lected on the team of Christy Ring All­Stars.

In the end, Glenealy re­alised their dreams of back-to-back ti­tles, winning the re­play by 2-10 to 0-10, hav­ing been held to a 1-12 each draw at the first time of ask­ing.

Jonathan O’Neill played a huge role in both matches and re­ceived the man of the match tro­phy for his ef­forts.

In the drawn en­counter he scored eight of their 12 points, in­clud­ing bang­ing over the equaliser with the last puck of the match.

He was equally pro­lific in the re­play as he tot­ted up 1-7 of Glenealy’s to­tal. An­other fac­tor that prob­a­bly swayed the re­play in Glenealy’s favour was the fact that they had the in­spi­ra­tional Leighton Glynn back from Aus­tralia.

Be­cause of the late fin­ish­ing of the Se­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship, Glenealy had to line out the next day in the Le­in­ster Club cham­pi­onship against Con­fey of Kil­dare. Play­ers ap­peared drained and list­less af­ter a hard county fi­nal, Jonathan O’Neill played with an in­jured hand, and the net re­sult was that they were beaten by the Kil­dare cham­pi­ons 1-9 to 0-9.

Michael Neary, the man­ager of Glenealy Se­niors, has called for the hurl­ing cham­pi­onship to be run off much ear­lier in the sum­mer when the weather is bet­ter.

‘Hav­ing to play a Le­in­ster Club match just 24 hours af­ter a hard county fi­nal is far from an ideal sit­u­a­tion. If the Wick­low cham­pi­ons are given a fair and rea­son­able chance, I be­lieve to can go far in Le­in­ster,’ Michael said.

Proof of that fact was to be seen ear­lier in the year in the Le­in­ster league com­pe­ti­tions. Com­pet­ing in divi­sion one Carnew were un­lucky not to qual­ify from their group, hav­ing drawn with Harps of Laois, beaten Oliver Plun­ket’s, and lost nar­rowly to Rapparees from Wex­ford.

Par­tic­i­pat­ing in divi­sion two, Glenealy did qual­ify from their group, pro­gress­ing to the semi-fi­nal be­fore be­ing beaten in the semi-fi­nal by three points by Cloughbawn, a Se­nior team from Wex­ford.

Glenealy com­pleted a cham­pi­onship dou­ble in 2008 by also winning the In­ter­me­di­ate hurl­ing ti­tle. Only three teams took part in this cham­pi­onship and they beat Carnew in the fi­nal by 0-14 to 0-8.

How­ever none of the three teams – the other was Kil­te­gan - was el­i­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate in the Le­in­ster Club, ruled out be­cause they were all In­ter­me­di­ate teams of Se­nior clubs.

Michael Neary steered a sec­ond club to cham­pi­onship suc­cess in hurl­ing in 2008. He was the man­ager of New­cas­tle Ju­niors as they lifted the cham­pi­onship with a dra­matic win over north­ern neigh­bours Fer­gal Og in the clos­ing stages.

Both teams were fan­cied to make the fi­nal in many quar­ters af­ter they were bol­stered by for­mer St. Pa­trick’s play­ers and they served up a crack­ing game of hurl­ing and one of the best Ju­nior fi­nals in years.

New­cas­tle were trail­ing their op­po­nents by 1-11 to 0-9 with just a minute of nor­mal time left on the clock. Lion-hearted Ta O’Brien pushed for­ward to the edge of the square and got the vi­tal touch to a John Dee O’Brien late, late free to crash home the winning goal. John Dee O’Brien fired over a mighty point im­me­di­ately af­ter­wards and thus New­cas­tle had per­formed their great Hou­dini act.

New­cas­tle also had to take part in the Le­in­ster Club against Dublin’s Naomh Barro the next day and, like Glenealy, they found the strain of hav­ing to play two games in the space of 24 hours too much and they suc­cumbed to an eight points de­feat. Notwith­stand­ing that de­feat, it still was a mem­o­rable year for New­cas­tle none­the­less.

Af­ter the heart-break of their cham­pi­onship fi­nal de­feat, Fer­gal Og gained com­pen­sa­tion and re­venge when two weeks later they turned the ta­bles on New­cas­tle, lift­ing the Ju­nior league ti­tle with a 2-9 to 0-9 win in the fi­nal.

Aughrim, with a num­ber of qual­ity play­ers in their team in­clud­ing Shane O’Lough­lin, Robert Lam­bert, Clive Ho­ran, Alan Byrne and Kevin Byrne, proved too good for Kil­macanogue/En­niskerry in the Ju­nior B hurl­ing cham­pi­onship fi­nal, pick­ing up the sil­ver­ware with a rather com­pre­hen­sive 1-10 to 0-3 win in a one-sided fi­nal.

Bray Em­mets have to be a ma­jor force in Se­nior hurl­ing on Wick­low in com­ing years, one would think.

In the last few years they have been one of the top clubs at un­der­age hurl­ing level in the county and this surely has to feed it­self through to strength­en­ing their Se­nior team to chal­lenge the likes of Glenealy and Carnew in years to come.

We had an­other ex­am­ple of their po­tency at un­der-age level in the Mi­nor hurl­ing cham­pi­onship where, in the fi­nal, they re­newed bat­tle with once king-pins Carnew and beat the south county side by 3-9 to 2-8 to lift the Mi­nor ti­tle af­ter a crack­ing match. A bright omen for the fu­ture per­haps.

Glenealy cap­tain Enan Glynn lifts the cup aloft af­ter his side beat Carnew in the Se­nior hurl­ing fi­nal re­play.

Leighton Glynn who lined out for Glenealy against Carnew in the Wick­low Se­nior hurl­ing fi­nal re­play af­ter re­turn­ing from Aus­tralia.

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