Memorable year for Kiltegan as they capture three titles
GAELIC GAMES MARK KENNEDY LOOKS BACK ON THE WICKLOW FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
2008 HAS been a memorable year for the footballers of Kiltegan as it was the year that they realised their cherished dream.
Having won six hurling Senior hurling titles in the 1990s decade and a seventh in 2001, the club’s burning ambition over the last few years has been to bridge the 22year gap to their last Senior football title.
Two years ago they went into the 2006 final as the hottest of favourites to fulfil their dream but instead they were ambushed by a St. Patrick’s side that was powered to victory by county star and fullforward Paul Earls who hammered the painful nails in Kiltegan’s coffin with a man of the match display and the clinching killer goal.
Then Kiltegan were probably the architects of their own defeat too, over-confidence playing a large part in their downfall.
Even though that defeat was a shattering blow to their morale, Kiltegan were determined not to let it get the better of them. They bounced back this year to again reach the Senior football final which turned out to be a repeat pairing of two years earlier as their opponents were again a Paul Earls led St. Patrick’s.
Even though Kiltegan had been preparing all year for this day, they must have wondered if history was about to repeat itself, if lightening was going to strike in the same place twice, when Paul Earls snatched a dramatic equalising point in their first meeting, and again in the replay as St. Patrick’s came out for the second-half with all guns blazing and Earls again slipped in for a goal and a point.
But Kiltegan had learned the lessons of two years earlier. They responded to the challenge laid down by Pat’s; and a combination of tactical play by county men Seánie Furlong and Jacko Dalton, plus veteran James Doyle stepping up to the mark in the dying moments to fire over the winning point (0-9 to 1-5) set the scene for a very popular win.
At the start of the year, however, Kiltegan were not top of everyone’s shopping list for 2008 champions. Baltinglass, as defending champions, were fancied to make a bold bid to retain the title with their young and fresh side.
However, the Slaneysiders failed to gel like 12 months earlier and they bit the dust at the quarter-final stage, beaten by Thomas Walsh strengthened Bray Emmets, who were the fancy of many as were Blessington from the west. But as happened so often in the past, Blessington and Bray flattered to deceive and we found once more that their feet were made of clay.
And of course St. Patrick’s, under the new management of Casey O’Brien, could never be dismissed from the equation. Indeed the Wicklow town lads came ever so close to winning their second title in three years, but this time Kiltegan showed nerves of steel to capture the Miley Cup.
That October weekend was an occasion of double celebrations in Kiltegan as they also won the Junior A championship title with a 0-8 to 0-5 win over Newcastle in the final and then capped off a great football year by also taking silverware from the Junior C football championship as a result of a 1-5 to 0-6 win over Rathnew in that final.
Three weeks after the county final, Kiltegan’s Seniors travelled to Carlow to take on famed Eire Og in the Leinster Club. Lacking the experience of their opponents at Leinster Club level, the Wicklow champions found themselves 1-4 in arrears before the end of the first quarter and, no matter how hard they tried thereafter, they were never able to recover from those early blows.
It was a truly marvellous year for Kiltegan nonetheless. Their Senior footballers also finished the division one league in a top four position but they failed to make the Dunne Cup final, being beaten by Newtown, who cantered to a 1-15 to 0-9 win.
2008 has also been a brilliant year for the footballers of Carnew.
Robert Doyle has taken over as manager of Carnew’s footballers as well as their hurlers and he has shown himself to be a truly inspirational mentor off the field as he was a player on the field by lifting the footballers to new and dizzy heights in 2008.
Carnew showed they meant business from the word go. Though only an Intermediate team in championship terms, Carnew hit the ground running in the division one league, setting a blistering pace for the pursuing pack of Senior sides.
Carnew led the league for much of the year and fittingly the destination of league honours hinged on the result of their final game against St. Patrick’s.
Were Carnew to lose, they would have handed the title to Newtown but true to their form all year they turned in another clinical display to convincingly beat the Wicklow town side by 4-8 to 0-7 to take the league honours.
League form meant that Carnew were also hotly fancied to win the Intermediate championship and it was no surprise when they qualified for this final too.
Their opponents were Annacurra, a team that had suffered heartbreak in three finals this decade, including losing to Newtown after a marathon three matches and two periods of extra-time.
In the final, Annacurra’s players were left inconsolable for a fourth time as Carnew came with a late burst that brought a goal and a point to sneak a single point victory, 1-9 to 0-11. Carnew were ecstatic and Annacurra were devastated. It’s not over yet for Carnew either. They have qualified for the Dunne Cup final (top four of the league), so there is the prospect of still more silverware in the offing.
It was not all doom and gloom for Annacurra, however. Within weeks of their championship defeat, they bounced back to win the division two league. For once they got the rub of the green, coming from behind with a Johnny Thompson injury-time goal to put the final against Coolkenno to extra-time where they built up a 1-17 to 0-11 winning margin.
This must surely give them a boost to have another go at winning the Intermediate championship in 2009.
There were also other winners and losers in 2008, teams that experienced either the ecstasy of victory or the agony of defeat.
Other championship winners included: Junior A football, Kiltegan; Junior B football, Newtown; Junior C football, Kiltegan; Minor football, Bray Emmets who were completing a Minor double: Keating Cup, Donard-Glen.
Championship promotions: Intermediate to Senior, Carnew; Junior A to Intermediate, Kiltegan; Junior B to Junior A, Newtown; Junior C to Junior B, Kiltegan.
Championship relegations: Senior football to Intermediate, Ashford; Intermediate to Junior A, Knockananna; Junior A to Junior B, Lacken.
League winners: division one, Carnew; division two, Annacurra, division three, Baltinglass, division four Rathnew (division four north east, Rathnew; division four south, Carnew; division four west, Hollywood).
League relegations: division one, An Tochar and Ballymanus; division two, Laragh and Kilmacanogue; division three, Knockananna.
League promotions: division two to division one, Annacurra and Coolkenno; division three to division two, Baltinglass and Newcastle; division four to division three, Rathnew.
Kiltegan celebrate after winning the Senior football championship.