Weather the real winner at weekend
SNOW AND frost brought everything to a halt on Sunday with sporting fixtures all over the country badly hit by the weather.
Pitches in Wicklow, and in many other parts of Ireland were covered by several inches of snow after a fresh fall on Saturday night.
Phillip McGillycuddy’s under-21 footballers were due to play Longford in the first round of the Leinster Championship in Pearse Park Longford on Sunday but that was one of the first causalities. It would appear that midlands or mountains it was all the same.
The pitch in Arklow, which up to this had escaped the worst of the weather, was also covered in a nice blanket of fresh snow on Sunday morning, resulting in the cancellation of the Wicklow v. Armagh match in the first round of the National Hurling League.
Amazingly the Aughrim pitch was in great shape for the National Football League match on Saturday, even though the surrounding countryside was covered in snow. ‘The only green field in the parish’, one Aughrim man was heard to say.
The condition of the pitch was a tribute surely to Victor O’Shaughnessy and his staff.
Even when the match was over the sod was showing little signs of wear and tear.
‘Titch’ Phelan and the hurling mentors would have to regard the postponement of Sunday’s game as a bit of a setback.
A home game against Armagh was about as good start as the new man at the helm could have hoped for. He is still in the process of team building and still looking a players that are new him.
However, another week’s training, should weather conditions allow, will not go amiss.
Now he must travel to a Kildare venue to take on a seasoned Lilywhites team, backboned by former Tipperary star David Kennedy, in his first game in the Hurling League on Saturday. But that’s the luck of the draw.
The good news is that the turnout at training is good, and growing all the time.
Phillip McGillycuddy was also a bit disappointed at having the match against Longford in the first round of the Leinster Championship called off.
‘We were all geared up for this date’, he said, ‘but noone has any control over the weather’.
In Phillip’s case there are pluses and minuses. The extra week’s training, if we manage to get in any training, will help.
Our biggest injury worry is Paddy Byrne. The Ballymanus lad pulled a hamstring in training just as he was recovering from cruciate surgery which had kept him out of action for a year.
‘The extra week will be a big help’, says Paddy.
‘I hope to be able to play some part in the game if it goes ahead on Saturday’.
Wicklow camogie clubs will be breaking new ground this month when some of their clubs will be taking part in a Leinster Senior Camogie League.
Simon Murphy, the new Chairperson of the Kiltegan club, is excited about the prospects of his girls crossing camans with top clubs from Wexford and Kilkenny.
He admits that this is a big challenge for a club in the process of re-building their team but says it will also present them with a rare challenge. Our players are sure to benefit from the experience of playing the game at a higher level.
In Kiltegan’s group in the league are Naomh Eanna from Wexford; Naomh Brid, Carlow, Carrickshock, Kilkenny and Camross, Laois.
Their first match is at home to Camross on Saturday week, February 21.
They are away to Carrickshock on the 28th; at home to Naomh Eanna on March 7, and finish the league section a week later with a trip to Carlow to play Naomh Brid.
Regional semi-finals are on the 4th of April with final on the 18th of April.
Ballinacor are an equally demanding group. The Glenmalure girls are in with Duffry Rovers and Blackwater from Wexford and Myshall and Mount Leinster Rangers from Carlow.
Their first game is away to Mount Leinster Rangers on the 21st and after a bye on the 23th they get their first home game against Blackwater on the 7th of March.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
We noted an unusually high number of clubs electing new leaders for the year ahead.
This appears to apply in particular the clubs west of the hills.
Some of the bigger clubs are not affected. This applies to Baltinglass where Con Murphy is starting on his fifth year in the hot seat; Blessington where John Paul Moran has signed on for another year or Bray Emmets where Gerard Murphy was returned unopposed only last week.
County champions Kiltegan had to find themselves a new Chairman after Noel Farrell stepped down after what was a fantastic one year in office.
The new man at the helm is Dublin-born Mick Carney, a selector with the Senior team for the last two years.
Dunlavin also had to find a replacement for the long serving Tony Allen who vacated the Chair at the AGM. The new man is John Hammond, a juvenile mentor with the St. Nicholas club in recent years.
Up in Kilbride Paddy Byrne also stepped down after just one year and the very popular Fergal Donoghue took over.
Fergal had a long playing career with the Liffeyside club and was team manager over the last three years.
In Stratford/Grangecon former player Declan Hanley has replaced Fergus Moore in the Chair. The Grangecon man had served for 25 years in one position or another on the committee.
The new Chairman in Knockananna is Edward Carroll who replaced John Keogh at the top.
Pat Carthy, one of the longest serving club officials in Wicklow is back in the Chair in Ballymanus. He replaces his brother-in-law Michael Stapleton who has held the post for many years. Pat will be hoping to lead the ‘ Billies’ back to Senior ranks in the not too distant future.
Jim O’Neill, the former top official with the County Board, has extended he term at the top with Donard/Glen.
Jim brings the good news that their spanking new pitch will be open in the coming months.
They are at presently in the proccess of completing their transformer powered floodlighting and the fencing. When completed the new grounds will be a great boost, not alone to the club but to West Wicklow in general. Donard holds a very central position in the district and the old ‘ Bawns’ pitch was a favoured venue with most clubs and supporters.
The bad weather has slowed down the work but the Chairman still hopes to be ready for an official opening on or before Lá na nClub on the 10th of May.
Elsewhere in the county we noted, with some regret, the departure of one of the longest serving Chairmen, Myles Manning in Ashford.
Taking his place will be Ronnie Phillips, a member of another great GAA family.
So the club that used to be called the ‘cradle of the GAA’ is still in safe hands.
A new Chairman in Aughrim where tradition also dies hard. The new Chairman in the Granite Village is Willie O’Loughlin who replaces Michael Evesson. Willie is yet another man setting himself the task of bringing the club back to Senior ranks.
REVIEW GROUP REPORT
Hugh O’Brien’s Review Group looked carefully at Cumann na mBunscoil and how it was operating. They concluded that this body were providing a wide range of activities, competitive and noncompetitive. Several of these activities are innovative and creative.
Teachers are to be commended on their efforts in this regard.
Cumann na mBunscoil identified the lack of person- nel involved as a problem.
The introduction of the Club/School coaching programme has been helpful and, apart from the coaching dimension, it has in some cases created a valuable link with the club.
The Cumann expressed two concerns in relation to the coaching programme. Firstly, there is a lack of follow-up by clubs on how well or otherwise the Coaching Programme is working. Secondly, in some cases the teacher is not present when the coaching is taking place. Recommendations: (1) An Effective monitoring system of school coaches shall be initiated in consultation with the County Games Development Administrator, the relevant Club Support Officer and the club concerned.
(2) The class teacher shall be present at all times when coaching is taking place.
(3) Discussions should take place between Cumann na mBunscoil and the County Games Develop Administrator with a view to facilitating those schools which wish to provide after school coaching.
(4) The County Games Development Administrator and Cumann na mBunscoil shall, in the first instance, meet and identify means by which clubs can play a more active role in facilitating the development and promotion of Gaelic Games in Primary Schools.
The outcome of these discussions shall form the basis for subsequent action by the County Board and/or the relevant District Boards and Clubs.
COUNTY/CLUB DEVELOPMENT DRAW
Tom Gregan wishes to remind the clubs that the new County/Club Development Draw will be coming up shortly.
The draw appears to be an excellent was for clubs to raise funds.
The profits from the draw, for the clubs that is, start to flow the minute you sell your first ticket. The County Board do all the paperwork and take all the risks. All the clubs have to do is sell the tickets.
The dividend rises the more tickets you sell and it is possible te get to the stage where the club hold on to the full price of the ticket.
Further information from the Chairman Tom Gregan, Coolboy (086-8102183) or the County Board offices in Arklow (0402-32386).
Waterford's Seán O'Hare is bottled up by Wicklow's John Paul Dalton and Anthony McLoughlin during the NFL Division 4 game in Aughrim on Saturday.