League kings celebrate
Footballers honoured at end-of-year shindig
A SUNDAY at the end of April 2012 will for ever be imprinted on the minds and hearts of all true Wicklow gaels.
For that was the day when a trusty band of footballers wrote their names in the county's history books by winning the Division 4 league title.
New chairman Martin Coleman told us on Friday night last that for 30 years Wicklow had been striving to break free from the suffocating clutches of the basement football division but never succeeding in achieving that until now.
In the final we beat Fermanagh decisively by a 216 to 1-11 margin and at the sound of the final whistle the Hogan Stand in Croke Park reverberated to the lusty sounds of Wicklow fans in full voice.
The sight of a Wicklow captain Leighton Glynn ascending the hallowed steps to receive the cup from the GAA President Liam O'Neill was a joy to behold.
There are not many days like that for Wicklow football and we had every right to go mad.
And we were still celebrating that famous victory on Friday night when the victorious squad of footballers was presented with their medals at a function in the Arklow Bay Hotel, which has become the home for Wicklow GAA for such big occasions.
Chairman Martin Coleman, settling into his new role like a hand in glove, did the honours of presenting the medals, paying tribute to the players who deservedly won them on the field of play and Harry Murphy and his backroom boys who laid the plans that scuppered a Fermanagh side that had 'skated' its way to the final.
Coleman told the players that bringing the league title to Wicklow was a great honour in itself and they and the management could be proud of what they had achieved.
He thanked all their sponsors for coming on board. Each player got a sponsor and in the difficult times we live in they did very well.
The chairman had special praise for their main sponsor Brian Brennan who has been very good to the GAA in Wicklow down the years. Whatever was asked of him, Brian was always forthcoming and not alone that he also attended all their functions and games.
“We have been trying for 30 years to get out of Division 4 of the league. It is always a difficult job to do and the amount of time and energy that this group of players and Harry Murphy and his backroom team put into it is just unreal,” he said.
“And they got their just rewards when they beat Fermanagh in the final. Many times during the campaign we thought it was gone from us and we went to Croke Park hoping to spring a surprise on a Fermanagh team that skated its way to the final. We hoped for a different story coming out of Croke Park this time and Wicklow were convincing winners on the night”.
Thanking the hotel and staff for the tremendous meal and service, he again thanked and congratulated the players and Harry Murphy and his backroom boys on bringing a national title to Wicklow.
Wicklow team on the day was: captain Leighton Glynn, John Flynn, Ciaran Hyland, Anthony McLoughlin, Alan Byrne, Dean Healy, Michael McLoughlin, Stephan Kelly, James Stafford, Rory Finn, Darragh O'Sullivan, Darren Hayden, Tony Hannon, Seanie Furlong, John McGrath. Subs: Peadar Burke, Paul Earls.
Robert Lambert, Austin O'Malley, Conor McGraynor, Barry Murphy, Adam Merriman, Cathal Rossiter, Nicky Mernagh, Paddy Dalton, Frank Clune.
Not all members of the squad were present on the night.
Others to receive medals: Billy Cullen, Mark Doyle, Mervyn Travers, Niall Gaffney, Stephen Byrne, Joey Kelly, Jason Bolger.
The Wicklow Senior footballers, who were honoured at a special function in The Arklow Bay Hotel recently, are pictured with the NFL Division 4 Cup which they won after defeating Fermanagh in Croke Park last April.
Fergus Kenny, Harry Murphy, Leighton Glynn, Martin Coleman and James Keogh with the NFL Division 4 Cup in The Arklow Bay Hotel.