An­other good week­end for Wick­low teams in the leagues. Micko's Se­nior foot­ballers had a free day but used it by play­ing one of their many prac­tice matches in Aughrim.

That game was serv­ing two pur­poses. First of all they were get­ting the feel of the Aughrim pitch ahead of their big game on Sun­day and se­condly the man­ager and his se­lec­tors were tak­ing a look at their fringe play­ers but in par­tic­u­lar the lat­est ad­di­tion to the panel Austin O'Mal­ley from Mayo.

With the hurlers

The hap­pi­est man in Wick­low on Sun­day night with­out any doubt was Casey O'Brien. His hurlers put in a gutsy dis­play to haul them­selves back into con­tention in their match against Lon­don and snatch a vic­tory from the jaws of de­feat. It was the re­verse to what has hap­pened so of­ten to Wick­low teams, foot­ball and hurl­ing.

How of­ten have we seen a good per­for­mance spoiled by late scores from the op­po­si­tion in the dy­ing min­utes? Make no mis­take about it this was the best dis­play by a Wick­low hurl­ing team in a long time. While it doesn't guar­an­tee us a league ti­tle or even pro­mo­tion, it does put Casey and his men in the driv­ing seat and give them a huge boost ahead of what prom­ises to be their sec­ond big­gest test of the year against Derry at Aughrim on Sun­day.

Mi­nor foot­ball

Hugh Kenny's Mi­nor foot­ballers also got their sea­son off to a win­ning start when they beat Kilkenny down in Muckalee on Fri­day night. Al­right, the 'cats' may not be known for their pow­ers on the foot­ball field, but they can prove dif­fi­cult enough op­po­nents par­tic­u­larly at this time of year when the hurl­ing has not re­ally got go­ing in the county. Like a lot of man­agers, Hugh will face a far big­ger task when he must travel to West­meath to take on the mid­lan­ders this Fri­day night.

Mi­nor hurl­ing

Michael An­thony O'Neill, the new man­ager of the Wick­low mi­nor hurl­ing team, also got his year off to a good start at the week­end. He took his team up to Darver in Louth on Satur­day to take part in a three team blitz. They played Down in the first match just af­ter get­ting off the bus, gave a good enough dis­play but lost in the end by 2-10 to 2-6.

In their sec­ond match they proved far too strong for the home team Louth and ran out win­ners by 7-17 to 0-5. They also had a coach­ing session un­der on of Le­in­ster's coaches Des Shaw. One of the stars of the show was John Man­ley who climbed out of bed early on Satur­day morn­ing af­ter play­ing with the Mi­nor foot­ballers in Kilkenny on Fri­day night and turned in a great dis­play at mid­field. Oth­ers to shine in­cluded goal­keeper Dan O'Neill, War­ren Ka­vanagh, Der­mot Master­son, Dar­ren Nu­gent, Stephen Coady and Mikey Lee. The other men­tors with that team are Tim Balfe, Nigel Man­ley, Der­mot Mol­loyh and Sheila Driver. The only fly in the oint­ment for Michael An­thony is the cham­pi­onship draw which sees them take on the losers of the match be­tween West­meath and Car­low.

Big day in Aughrim

Aughrim stages its first big day of the year on Sun­day with a league dou­ble­header - Wick­low ver­sus Derry in hurl­ing

and ver­sus Long­ford in foot­ball; a big dou­ble-header which will be great value for money at €10 ad­mis­sion. In ad­di­tion all ju­ve­niles un­der-16 years are free and Hugh Kenny and his team are mak­ing a big ef­fort in the schools and clubs in the county to pro­mote the oc­ca­sion and to en­sure that as many of our ju­ve­nile play­ers as pos­si­ble will be there to cheer on their heroes. A win for the hurlers over Derry would all but guar­an­tee them pro­mo­tion and a place in the league fi­nal. For Mick O'Dwyer's foot­ballers this is also a key match and a win over Long­ford would put them back at the top of the ta­ble and give them a great chance of pro­mo­tion. So boys and girls get out the flags and the buntings and head for the county grounds on Sun­day.

With the ex­iles

As usual when we visit Lon­don we meet up with a lot of old friends who are liv­ing in the big smoke as well as trav­el­ling sup­port­ers from Ire­land.

There to give the Wick­low team and men­tors a big ' Cead Mile Failte' was the Pres­i­dent of the Lon­don Wick­low As­so­ci­a­tion, Tom McAssey, a good Coolkenno man who has spent many years in Lon­don.

There too was our great friend Paddy Byrne who knows more Wick­low peo­ple than any­body else I ever met. We also met Liam and Lisa Fitzger­ald and Ger Curry from Balt­in­glass; Ea­mon and James Fur­long from Kil­te­gan; Mark Brady from Rath­dan­gan; the Carty fam­ily from Bal­ly­manus, Pat, Chrissy and Christina; Matt Hil­lard and his son Matthew from Carnew; Pat Mul­vey from the Goose Bank in Kil­coole; Bren­dan and Johnny Tim­mons from Round­wood and a big trav­el­ling party from Kil­mac, num­ber­ing 24 in all. I think they were dou­ble job­bing and tak­ing in a stag party that had some­thing to do with our GAA web­site ex­pert Alan O'Brian.

They were led by great Mon­aghan man Peadar Smith, Daryl Tighe, Tom Conaty, Shane Fer­gu­son, Shane Vick­ers, an­other Liam Fitzger­ald and Kevin Mol­loy. There too as al­ways was Seán and Maura O'Brien from Wick­low; James, Der­mot and Jimmy Barrett from Strat­ford; Ed­die Ber­ming­ham from Golden Fort; Tim Balfe from Carnew and two hur­ley mak­ers from Wex­ford, Pat Cullen from Bal­lymitty and Noel Kehoe. So the Gar­den County had plenty of sup­port at the venue and for once re­paid their fol­low­ers with a mighty dis­play and a come­back to warm the hearts of ev­ery­one.

Where are they now?

Last week's pic­ture was, it would ap­pear, a bit an­cient and we did not get the usual rush of call­ers. How­ever we did get some cor­rect an­swers but we will come back to that later.

First of all back to the pic­ture of the An­nacurra team of 1931 which is still in the news.

We made one mis­take when we said that the goal­keeper on that team, Jim Mul­hall, was a grand un­cle of present day star Alan Byrne.

In fact Alan's mother Ann Byrne is a daugh­ter of Jim Mul­hall so he was Alan's grand­fa­ther. The first to spot that mis­take was Seán O'Neill from Grey­stones who played for An­nacurra him­self. My apolo­gies to Ann and the Byrne/Mul­hall fam­i­lies.

That much sorted we can get back to

last week's pic­ture which was of an Ark­low team that beat Ki­lanerin of Wex­ford in the fi­nal of the Fr Michael Mur­phy tour­na­ment in 1926.

So small won­der that we did not have that many tak­ers.

The first man to come in with the cor­rect an­swer was again Pat Mitchell - is there no end to his pool of knowl­edge? Pat had a par­tic­u­lar rea­son for know­ing the back­ground to that event but we are hold­ing that story for an­other day.

John Kenny from Aughrim was an­other to name the team cor­rectly and also tell us that it was the fi­nal of a gold medal tour­na­ment.

The play­ers in the pic­ture were: Front - Right to Left - M. O'Reilly, D McDon­ald, C. Aldworth, J McDon­ald, J. O'Reilly, E. Breen, J.P. Kehoe. Back row - W. Lee (Pres­i­dent); J. O’Neill, G. Copeland, A Ka­vanagh, H. Kelly, Garda Byrne, P. Byrne, W. Byrne, T. Fur­long (Sec­re­tary).

We would still like to hear from any­one in Ark­low that had, or know of, con­nec­tions with that team. There must surely be some of the medals around the sea­side town still.

Matt Byrne

Jim Lawlor from Kil­lalesh, Kil­te­gan was an­other to name the man in the pic­ture and told us of a trip he had with the great Balt­in­glass man to a match in Dr Cullen Park.

Matt was one of the first GAA men­tors to have his own mo­tor car and used it freely in the ser­vice of the As­so­ci­a­tion. How­ever, when the Sec­ond World War broke out in 1939 the petrol sup­ply in this coun­try dried up. Even if you could get the pre­cious fuel it be­came il­le­gal to take a car onto the pub­lic road with­out a spe­cial per­mit and they were only avail­able to doc­tors, priests and oth­ers serv­ing the pub­lic and even then only for use within their own area.

In Kil­te­gan they still re­call the time the lo­cal CC, Fr O'Con­nor was pulled up for driv­ing his car to Balt­in­glass and even though he pleaded that he had to take it to Tommy Doyle's garage for ser­vic­ing he was still fined and warned.

Any­way ev­ery­one was grounded for the du­ra­tion but some­how the GAA man­aged to strug­gle on, mainly with horse drawn trans­port or the bi­cy­cle. If you re­mem­ber that Matt Byrne at­tended the first Con­ven­tion in 1886 then he would have been well into his seven­ties at the time.

He did not have a horse or a bi­cy­cle but when Wick­low were play­ing Car­low in Car­low and the 'Wick­low Peo­ple' wanted the story it was get there or bust for Matt. His friend Tommy Whe­lan of the Red­wells had a good fast trot­ting pony and a com­fort­able trap at the time.

Tommy picked up his neigh­bour Jim Lawlor, a young boy at the time, col­lected Matt in Balt­in­glass and headed for Car­low. Jim thinks that Car­low won the match, which they would have at the time - they won their only Le­in­ster Cham­pi­onship in 1944.

That story un­der­lines the ded­i­ca­tion of Matt Byrne and the lengths he was pre­pared to go to in pro­mot­ing the games. Jim Lawlor was not sure of the year but has clear mem­o­ries of a great dis­play by Pe­nie Whe­lan for Car­low and thinks it was the year af­ter he cap­tained them to vic­tory in Le­in­ster. If so it could have been 1945 and on that Wick­low team would have been men like Kit Car­roll, Paddy Len­non, Bob and Joe Byrne, Paudge Bren­nan the O'Neill's and Dinny Cullen from Bal­li­na­cor but of more sig­nif­i­cance two men who are still alive - Jim Rogers and Seán Met­calfe of Donard. Thanks for the mem­o­ries Jim. In­ci­den­tally on the Mi­nor team of 1945 we no­ticed such well known names as Gerry O'Reilly, Donard, God­frey Tim­mins, Balt­in­glass, Bren­dan Bren­nen, Carnew, Der­mot Ka­vanagh, Rath­new and Matt Keenan, Round­wood.

The pic­ture

The clue to the pic­ture this week is “foot­ball but not se­nior”. Ju­ve­nile Fix­tures Plan Hugh Kenny un­veiled a new-look fix­tures pro­gramme for the year ahead at a full meet­ing of Bord na nOg chaired by Damien Byrne at Aughrim on Thurs­day night.

It was by far the most am­bi­tious and im­pres­sive pro­ject that we have seen so far. On dis­play was two wall charts, one giv­ing dates, venues and ev­ery­thing else to do with all fix­tures up to the end of De­cem­ber 2011.

The other wall chart out­lined all other en­gage­ments at club and county level so no one can say any more that they didn't get suf­fi­cient no­tice of matches, meet­ings and other func­tions dur­ing the year. That was backed up with de­tailed doc­u­ments on Go Games from Un­der-8 and Un­der10, again with dates and venues clearly set out.

The meet­ing was well at­tended and for once we did not hear one word of dis-

sen­tion from any club or in­di­vid­ual. Ev­ery­body ac­cepted the doc­u­ments as pre­pared and pre­sented by Hugh and his team of coaches so it does ap­pear that we can look for­ward to bet­ter times ahead for ev­ery­body.


While the rest of us mor­tals in the GAA are happy enough to be pick­ing up the odd win in our own lit­tle leagues and cham­pi­onships, that sort of vic­tory is not good enough for our hand­ballers and in par­tic­u­lar the high-fly­ing boys and girls from the Coolboy club.

World Cham­pi­onships no less is their aim ev­ery year and last week it was the turn of their young lady star to hit the head­lines.

Shauna Hil­ley (IT Tralee and Coolboy) was su­perb in her two-game win over Amer­i­can Sandy Ng in the Women's Open Sin­gles at the USHA 59th Col­le­giate Na­tional Cham­pi­onships, hosted by the World Play­ers of Hand­ball in Tempe, Ari­zona.

Jackie gets his just re­ward

When the AIB Coach­ing and De­vel­op­ment Awards for 2010 were be­ing pre­sented by Des Cahill in the Min­erva Suite, RDS, Balls­bridge on Mon­day our own Jackie Napier was one of the peo­ple col­lect­ing an award. Our congratulations to one of the great ser­vants of the GAA in Wick­low par­tic­u­larly in hurl­ing.

Tom Lof­tus R.I.P.

The death oc­curred at the week­end of Tom Lof­tus of Bray, one of the great Gaels who served the As­so­ci­a­tion at al­most ev­ery level from top to bot­tom.

Roscommon born Tom spent most of his life in Dublin where he was chair­man of the County Board for many years and held many other po­si­tions as well. He was chair­man of Le­in­ster Coun­cil and at one time a can­di­date for the Pres­i­dency of the As­so­ci­a­tion.

It was af­ter his re­tire­ment from ac­tive ser­vice that he made his great­est con­tri­bu­tion to Wick­low foot­ball.

He threw in his lot with the ju­ve­nile peo­ple of Bray and North Wick­low and he served for al­most twenty years on the North District Ju­ve­nile Board as chair­man and sec­re­tary.

His fu­neral takes place to­day (Wed­nes­day) from The Holy Redeemer Church Bray to Spring­field Ceme­tery. Our sin­cere sym­pa­thy to his sons, daugh­ter and ex­tended fam­ily.

May he Rest in Peace.

Can you iden­tify this team?

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