NEARY TO THE BONE
Flynn and Keddy are the best candidates for the top awards
I WOULD like take this opportunity to extend very best wishes and good health to all who read this article for 2013.
I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to express my views over the last year.
I have addressed a lot of current issues affecting the GAA in general and in particular matters relating to Wicklow.
My column has, at times, been somewhat controversial. I know many of you have agreed with most of my opinions and the positive feedback I have received confirms that the fact that I have addressed concerns which many GAA folk may have in Wicklow has been refreshing and most welcome.
Previously a platform to independently highlight people's concerns and issues was not available.
I am enjoying the good humoured banter my column generates as I visit many club grounds within the county.
As I continue my involvement with local teams in the coming year hopefully I can maintain the independence of this column without it resulting in any adverse prejudice or injustice against these teams. Time will tell.
The announcement of the Wicklow GAA Awards for 2012 was an exciting end to the GAA year.
It's a great honour for any player to have their achievements recognised by the many clubs in the county.
These awards are now a regular event in most counties. Where counties are less successful and not in the running for national awards these local rewards are a prestigious and esteemed acknowledgement.
The fact that awards are presented to all grades and codes is a testament to the commitment and contribution of the relevant County Boards to this event.
I am fortunate to personally know many of this year's recipients and over the coming weeks I hope to individually highlight their significant contribution to the category in which they were successful.
The inter-county footballer of the year award went to the county goalkeeper, John Flynn (Baltinglass).
This award was thoroughly merited. As I know only too well, sometimes the importance of the role of a goalkeeper is considerably underestimated.
John played a huge role in Wicklow securing promotion from Division 4. It was not an easy job replacing a keeper of the calibre of Mervyn Travers.
Mervyn, during his distinguished career in goal was hugely dependable which included making many high profile saves during some of Micko's qualifier games. John, in my opinion played an immensely important game for Wicklow when winning the Division 4 final in Croke Park.
His brilliant saves in the first half and early in the second half were game winners. Even though Wicklow were convincing winners in the end if John hadn't made those two important saves the result would no doubt have been a lot tighter or even different.
When word broke that John was contemplating retiring due to work commitments it sent shockwaves throughout the county. These concerns illustrated the importance and value of John's role to the team. His subsequent return to the panel was a huge boost to Harry for the coming year.
The award for inter-county hurler deservedly went to Ronan Keddy (Kilcoole). As a fellow club member of his I have watched Ronan's development as a hurler from juvenile up to his current high rank with great interest.
Since his introduction to the county squad he has worked tremendously hard at developing all aspects of his game and has now established himself as one of the top midfielders participating in the Christy Ring competition.
He, along with his fellow midfielder, Eamonn Kearns, has been one of the main reasons that Wicklow have contested the last two Christy Ring finals.
His hurling career was greatly nurtured by being educated at Colaiste Eoin, Stillorgan where his school was part of the hurling renaissance in Dublin Colleges.
Ronan's commitment to both club and county is tremendous. He continuously works hard at improving his game and has returned every year to the county squad a stronger and superior player, always open and willing to further develop and improve his all round game.
Ronan eats, sleeps and drinks hurling and in my opinion has all the necessary attributes to become an excellent coach when his playing career ends. This award will sit nicely beside the Christy Ring award he won earlier this year.
Sincere congratulations to both John and Ronan on their fantastic achievements in 2012 and I wish them further personal and team success for the coming year.