A good week for Wick­low G.A.A.

Bray People - - Bray Sport -

A GOOD week all round on the G.A.A. front in Wick­low. The U-21 foot­ballers got off to a winning start up in Long­ford and gave their sup­port­ers some­thing to shout about.

Al­right they kept the good wine to last. It was only in the fi­nal ten min­utes of the game they pro­duced any­thing like the foot­ball they are ca­pa­ble of. Be­ing their first out­ing of the year and the long jour­ney may have had some­thing to do with the very slow start.

They are at home to Laois in their next match and have just two weeks to pre­pare for what is sure to be a much big­ger test.

The O’Moore lads will be all out to get re­venge for their shock de­feat in Port­laoise a year ago.

The hurlers were pipped at the post in their first out­ing in the new sea­son Na­tional Hurl­ing League. Tak­ing into ac­count that a new man­age­ment team were only weeks on the job and were sift­ing through a big panel of play­ers this would also have to be re­garded as a good enough dis­play, par­tic­u­larly in Newbridge.

Give ‘Titch’ Phe­lan and his men a few more weeks to get the feel of the job and to get to know their play­ers bet­ter and we can look to the fu­ture with some con­fi­dence.

Else­where the mix-up in the Seánie Fur­long case was sorted out to every­one’s sat­is­fac­tion at the week­end, the Kil­te­gan lad is free to play again and should be a big boost to Micko’s team when league action re­sumes. The re­sult of the Antrim match stands and Wick­low hold on to that pre­cious point.

In view of a re­port in the na­tional me­dia dur­ing the week, County Chair­man Andy O’Brien went on air at the week­end to con­firm that there was no prob­lem with Seán Mul­ryan’s spon­sor­ship of the Wick­low team and he availed of the op­por­tu­nity to pub­li­cally thank Seán and Bal­ly­more Prop­er­ties for their con­tin­ued sup­port.

So it would ap­pear that ev­ery­thing in the Gar­den is smelling of roses again.

MICKO’S MEN

Micko has stepped up his train­ing pro­gramme big time in a bid to make up for time lost be­cause of the ban on train­ing in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber. Dur­ing the re­cent bl­iz­zards find­ing suit­able pitches added to the prob­lems.

Balt­in­glass’ grounds was out of bounds be­cause of build­ing work on the new dress­ing rooms. Other pitches were ei­ther un­playable be­cause of the snow or did not have good lighting sys­tems.

The usual train­ing and prac­tice match be­tween Se­niors and U-21s took place in New­town on Sun­day morn­ing where the new pitch was in per­fect con­di­tion.

A big turn-out of play­ers from both pan­els and a very worth­while match.

Micko has added two more play­ers to his panel, Dar­ragh O’Sul­li­van from St. Pa­trick’s and Gar­reth Doyle from New­town.

Damien Power and Rory Nolan were back in train­ing and both looked to be in fine shape. Damien told us that he played a prac­tice match with his club Rath­new on Satur­day and had no ill ef­fects..

He is tar­get­ing the match against KIlkenny on March 8 for a re­turn to ac­tive ser­vice and is hop­ing to avoid a re­cur­rence of the in­jury that dogged him through most of 2008.

Rory Nolan’s an­kle in­jury has re­sponded to treat­ment and he is fly­ing again.

With the ex­cep­tion of a mi­nor in­jury picked up by county U-21 player Donal Finch every­one came through a hard ses­sion un­scathed at the end of the Sun­day morn­ing ses­sion.

A few of Phillip’s U-21 ply­ers who picked up mi­nor in­juries or were just sore from bumps and bruises did not play in the match but did do some light ex­er­cises.

Micko’s Se­niors are train­ing three night this week. On Mon­day night in Balt­in­glass, Wed­nes­day, Knockananna and Fri­day New­town.

No matches for any of our teams this com­ing week­end.

Next up for the foot­ballers is away to Kilkenny on March 8; the Se­nior hurlers are a thome to Mayo on March 1 while on the same day the U21 foot­ballers play Laois at a Wick­low venue in the quar­ter-fi­nal of the Le­in­ster Cham­pi­onship.

Lets hope that com­mon sense pre­vails and that both matches are played as a dou­ble-header at the same venue. That is the least the sup­port­ers de­serve.

MAN­AGER/TRAIN­ERS, OLD AND NEW

Last week we looked at some clubs that had a change of lead­er­ship in the board­room for the com­ing year.

This week we take a look at the men that have taken on the now very de­mand­ing job of team Man­ager/Trainer in a num­ber of clubs

Kil­te­gan - Start­ing with the county foot­ball cham­pi­ons. Gavin Wynne who had a dream start to his man­age­rial ca­reer has re­signed. As of now the club has found no-one to take his place. Gen­er­ally the new man puts in the first year or two find­ing his feet and get­ting to know the ropes.

For Gavin it was in­stant suc­cess. He struck gold at his first try and ev­ery- one would say that Kil­te­gan were ‘made’ for the forsee­able fu­ture

Gavin, who may be con­sid­er­ing pick­ing up the pieces of a promis­ing play­ing ca­reer de­cided to fol­low the ex­am­ple of the Chair­man Noel Far­rell and get out af­ter just one year - go while the go­ing is good!.

Glenealy - Iron­i­cally the county hurl­ing cham­pi­ons are also tak­ing their time in rub­ber-stamp­ing the job of Man­ager for 2009. Michael Neary has just brought back-to-back ti­tles to the club and every­one ex­pects that he will be stay­ing on and lead­ing the club in their bid for a three-in-a-row.

The last time Glenealy landed the three-in-a-row was 1957, ’58 and ’59.

Avon­dale has prob­a­bly made the great­est catch of them all. They en­listed for­mer county boss John Mitchell to man­age their hurl­ing team. If any man can bring the ‘Dales back to the top in Wick­low hurl­ing it is Mitchell.

Eoin Doyle re­mains on as Man­ager/Trainer of the foot­ball team.

An­nacurra are not for chang­ing this year, and no won­der. Pat Mol­loy from Rathvilly who got them back to Se­nior ranks, if only in the league re­mains on.

Martin Fitzger­ald, one of the long­est serv­ing club of­fi­cers in the county was re­turned again as Chair­man for the sixth year. All in all Martin has served the club in one po­si­tion or an­other since 1979 - without a break..

Balt­in­glass have gone out­side the club to find some­one to get them back in the groove as they con­tinue to chase the leaders Rath­new for the top spot in the ta­ble.

They went for Newbridge man Ray O’Sul­li­van to do the job. Ray is a very ex­pe­ri­enced trainer and could be just the man they need to whip their young team into shape.

Iron­i­cally Balt­in­glass club­man Hugh Kenny will be train­ing O’Sul­li­van’s club Sars­fields this year.

Bless­ing­ton also have a new team at the top. One of their own Paddy O’Con­nor is the man­ager while Phillip Cullen from Clon­more is the trainer. They re­place the long-serv­ing Peter Be­han.

Phillip comes from a great Car­low G.A.A. fam­ily and has plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence of Wick­low foot­ball. He had two spells with Donard/Glen and was the Kil­te­gan trainer when they reached the Se­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship semi-fi­nal in 2007.

Bray Em­mets have not quite fi­nalised the de­tails of a new man to re­place Liam McGraynor as foot­ball man­ager for the com­ing year.

How­ever, we can re­veal the name of the new Se­nior hurl­ing man­ager. It is their own club­man Pat Lee. While Pat played all or most of his adult hurl­ing with Kil­coole he has al­ways been a Bray man and trained four Mi­nor hurl­ing cham­pi­onship winning teams in the club.

While Pat did not man­age to get a SHC medal him­self he had a good in­nings with the county team and won Ke­hoe Cup medals in ’89 and ’91.

Ballymanus have roped in the ex­pe­ri­enced Dunlavin man Johnny Willis to train the team. Johnny re­places Tony Byrne from Bal­li­na­cor.

Billy Byrne re­mains on as team man­ager.

Johnny had a good spell with Kil­bride be­fore mov­ing to Ash­ford for a few years. He is tak­ing over a club that is in the process of team build­ing but who has some very ex­cit­ing play­ers com­ing through. They have three play­ers on the county U-21 team, which is more than most of the big clubs.

At Barn­dar­rig, where James Crow­ley is back in the Chair for an­other year, they are again stick­ing with their own Ciarán O’Brien as foot­ball man­ager. A hurl­ing man­ager will be ap­pointed in the next week or two.

Donard/Glen have also gone for a new man, but only had to go down the road to Eadestown to get him. Nick O’Neill from Strat­ford, one of Wick­low’s best play­ers has taken over the job and will find him­self school­ing a few of his own neph­ews.

Nicko was also one of Wick­low’s finest foot­ballers and has plenty to of­fer to any team.

Dunlavin was an­other club to have to find a re­place­ment for the long serv­ing Alan Heat­ley. They went for Car­low man Sea­mus McCleane.

En­niskerry had a good year in 2008 and not sur­pris­ingly they are stick­ing with Ed Jame­son as man­ager/trainer. The Rath­new vet­eran could get a cham­pi­onship out of the Su­gar­loaf men in this un­pre­dictable Ju­nior A grade.

An­other vet­eran of many bat­tles Tommy Reid re­mains on as Chair­man.

Hol­ly­wood have called in one of the big guns in a bid to get back on the winning way.

For­mer Dublin All-Ire­land win­ner Dave Fo­ran is the man they have cho­sen for the job.

Dave is no stranger to Wick­low foot­ball, hav­ing trained the Se­nior county team with some suc­cess for a num­ber of years.

The Thomas Davis club­man will only have a short jour­ney to travel down the N81 to his new head­quar­ters.

Laragh - Bryan Doyle brought about great im­prove­ments in the team in his first year and ended up by winning the Carter Cup. He has de­cided to stay on for an­other year.

Lacken - Chang­ing times around the Lake­side district. Dar­ren Be­han re­places an­other Bless­ing­ton club­man Glen Walsh as team man­ager in Lacken and will be as­sisted by Paul Clarke.

Val­ley­mount - Peter Be­han who just fin­ished his term with Bless­ing­ton re­turns to his roots to man­age Val­ley­mount and brings his long time part­ner Stephen Doyle with him.

He re­places Paul Allen, a great Wick­low foot­baller not so long ago.

In Kil­bride Lorcan Clarke takes over from Fer­gal Donoghue, now the Chair­man of the club, as team man­ager.

Ti­na­hely, where Joe Hay­den has stepped down have turned to Wex­ford man Michael Fur­long. Michael is a very ex­pe­ri­enced man­ager/trainer. He was in­volved with sev­eral Wex­ford county teams, had a spell with Kil­te­gan where he trained both hurl­ing and foot­ball teams and en­joyed some suc­cess. Last year he was with Coolkenno and while he helped the Car­low bor­der club re­gain Se­nior League sta­tus he failed nar­rowly to get them an out­right win in Divi­sion 2 of the SFL.

We will look at a few more of the new trainer/man­agers that will be op­er­at­ing in Wick­low next week.

CU­MANN NA MBUN­SCOL WEST

Tommy Bren­nan is due to kick off the first of his blitz com­pe­ti­tions in the West on Wed­nes­day, Fe­bru­ary 25.

It will be Boys Foot­ball and will be held at two venues

Venue 1 is Bless­ing­ton where the of­fi­cer in charge will be Pat Sheri­dan (086-1716659). Venue 2 - Strat­ford - Of­fi­cer in charge Mary O’Ke­effe (0876305574).

On Wed­nes­day, March 11, it will be Girls Foot­ball from 11 o’clock to 1 o’clock.

Venue 1 - Dunlavin - for schools with 100 plus chil­dren. (Tommy Bren­nan (045-401495). Venue 2 - Strat­ford for schools with less than 100 stu­dents (Mary O’Ke­effe)

Thurs­day, March 26 - Hurl­ing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Venue - Dunlavin - All Schools. (Michael Mo­ran - 0868842181).

Please the em­pha­sis on th­ese events is par­tic­i­pa­tion, en­joy­ment and skill de­vel­op­ment.

Any school wish­ing to take part must con­tact the or­gansers at least two days prior to the event.

The num­bers on each team will be de­cided on the day. Schools should feel free to bring as many chil­dren as they wish - all will be catered for.

WELL DONE REF

Not since the 1950s and 60s when Ea­monn ‘Fitz’ Moules and Jimmy Hat­ton were in their prime did Wick­low have a ref­eree mak­ing the na­tional head­lines, for the right rea­sons.

On Satur­day Ed­die Craul was in charge of the All-Ire­land JFC fi­nal be­tween Skel­lig from Kerry and the cham­pi­ons of Great Bri­tain John Mitchells in Croke Park.

It was a well de­served hon­our for the Kil­bride whistler. We send him out con­grat­u­la­tions and hope that this will be the start of bet­ter times fow Wick­low ref­er­ees in gen­eral.

Wick­low ref­eree Ed­die Craul beck­ons Skel­lig Rangers goal­keeper Michael Bren­nan to hurry up with his kick out in the dy­ing mo­ments of the AIB GAA All-Ire­land Ju­nior Club Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship Fi­nal at Croke Park.

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