WHERE ARE THEY NOW? HARRY GOT the new sea­son off to a good start when his ex­per­i­men­tal team played a draw with DCU in Greystones in the O'Byrne Cup. Harry, we are told, will be con­tin­u­ing with the ex­per­i­ment­ing tonight (Wed­nes­day) when he takes on Car­low in Bray in the same com­pe­ti­tion.

There was a nice turn-out of sup­port­ers in Greystones on Sun­day so we hope that trend will con­tinue

Ea­mon Fitzsi­mons fi­nally came to the res­cue and named the Bless­ing­ton team in our mys­tery pic­ture. It was of course the team that brought the Mi­ley Cup to the home of the donor for the one and only time in 1983.

It was not the first time for Bless­ing­ton to win the Se­nior cham­pi­onship how­ever. The 'Blues' were in fact the first team to bring the cup back across the moun­tains to the west in 1915. We don't know much about that team but we do know that they coughed up a chance of win­ning an­other ti­tle when they failed to turn up for the fi­nal of 1933, leav­ing Round­wood to take a walkover.

When the Lake­side town again pro­duced a team good enough and ded­i­cated enough to bridge that 68-year gap, most of them were from fam­i­lies syn­ony­mous with the G.A.A. in the area down the years. There was two or three Hen­nessy brothers, sons of Toddy who played for club and county for many years.

Bob Booth­man's fa­ther, Jack, was of course the Pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion and a man that did so much to put West Wicklow foot­ball on the map; the Shan­nons, the Quinns, the Fin­negans, Sar­gents, Han­lon, O'Donoghue, O'Ha­gans - all names to be found in the pages of his­tory.

Paddy Len­non was a nephew of a great man of the same name who played for Donard, Wicklow and Le­in­ster. The cap­tain, Pat O'Toole, was carv­ing out his own place in the his­tory books that day as he had al­ready cap­tained Dunlavin to vic­tory in 1981. His fa­ther, Jimmy, also played for Dunlavin, Donard and Wicklow.

All in all a team of great young men ded­i­cated to putting the town back on the map.

Chris O'Connor also sent a text to say it was a Bless­ing­ton team but no more in­for­ma­tion - the old army say­ing ap­plied: 'no names - no pack drill'.

May Nolan from Knock­nadruce, Val­ley­mount, also rang and was able to name most of that team.

The men in the pic­ture were - back row (from left): Der­mot Hen­nessy, Ciarán Shan­non, Paddy Sar­gent, Shay Sar­gent, Paddy Len­non, Paddy Quinn, Ro­nan Hen­nessy, Pat Quinn. Front: Martin Shan­non, Bob Booth­man, Kevin Han­lon, Pat O'Toole, Patsy O'Donoghue, Tom­mie O'Ha­gan and John Fin­negan.

Some equally well known names in the subs that day in­cluded Martin Shan­non, Rasy O'Don­nell (R.I.P.), Peter Daly (brother of the great Fer­gus), Tom Hen­nessy, Barry Fin­negan, Andy Do­ran, Glen Walsh, Paddy Bro­phy and Martin Hen­nessy. They beat Balt­in­glass 1-10 to 1-6 in the fi­nal.

Ques­tion: On the Bless­ing­ton team that beat Wicklow in the 1915 fi­nal, played in Laragh in July, 1916, was an E. Fitzsi­mons. Was he any re­la­tion to the man who sup­plied us with the names of the 1983 team?


When new County Chair­man Martin Cole­man in­vited the clubs of the county to an 'open fo­rum' in the County Build­ings on Mon­day night what he had in mind was to give the peo­ple that mat­tered most in the county the chance to dis­cuss the state of the games as they saw them at the moment and to come up with sug­ges­tions for change, should change be needed.

Should the clubs de­cide that a new way for­ward is needed, then Martin is de­ter­mined to have the clubs' rep­re­sen­ta­tives with him on that jour­ney. The 'Cor­ner' was put to­gether be­fore that meet­ing took place so we are not at this point in time in a po­si­tion to tell you much about what hap­pened at the meet­ing.

How­ever, we can guess that one sub­ject near and dear to the hearts of most club men­tors is fix­tures. And fix­tures can hardly be dis­cussed with­out the for­mat of our ma­jor cham­pi­onships also get­ting an air­ing. In the past when there was con­cern about the state of the games in the county the prob­lem was tack­led by set­ting up a spe­cial com­mit­tee, or even a com­mis­sion, to look into the mat­ter and to come back with sug­ges­tions to im­prove mat­ters.

I doubt that that road is avail­able to Martin, at least not in the short term. The new man driv­ing the fix­tures ve­hi­cle is Mick Ha­gan and if I know the St. Pa­trick’s club­man he has al­ready made a start on his pro­gramme for 2013, so if there is any ma­jor change in for­mat it may have to be in the long term.

Any­way this may be an op­por­tune time to look at some of the more re­cent changes in the cham­pi­onship for­mat and how they have worked out. One thing that we have heard many times in the past and are hear­ing again now is that we have too many Se­nior foot­ball clubs in the county, and too few in Se­nior hurl­ing. We will deal with the foot­ball end first.

Around the start of 1992 this was a hot sub­ject and the ‘Wicklow Peo­ple' ran two sep­a­rate ar­ti­cles on the sub­ject. One was by well-known writer Jim Bro­phy, a man well equipped to speak on the sub­ject. He won a Ju­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship with Balt­in­glass back in 1943, was Sec­re­tary of the Balt­in­glass club and later of Bray Em­mets club and the North District Board. He was also a can­di­date for county Sec­re­tary at one stage but was beaten on a vote by Ge­orge Ni­cholls. In ad­di­tion he had been cov­er­ing matches for the ‘Wicklow Peo­ple’ for over 40 years at that stage so he cer­tainly knew his sub­ject in­side out.

The ar­ti­cle was headed 'Fewer but bet­ter se­nior teams must be the aim'. It reads: ‘Of the 37 clubs in Wicklow there are at least 20 that will never win a Wicklow se­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship, be­cause their num­bers are too small to pro­duce enough foot­ballers of se­nior cal­i­bre. The same ap­plies to coun­ties - there are many who are al­ways go­ing to find it dif­fi­cult sim­ply be­cause they haven't the foot­balling pop­u­la­tion. There are also other ar­eas in Wicklow where other games dom­i­nate and as a re­sult the GAA pop­u­la­tion will be smaller than lesser towns and vil­lages. So, the ob­vi­ous thing to do is to have a lot less clubs of a much higher qual­ity. Should we for­get about place names and give them ti­tles like the Dublin clubs or like the Michael Dwyers who nearly made the county fi­nal last year?

‘I men­tioned this in a pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cle and I told I was talk­ing through my hat. A lot of peo­ple be­lieve that vil­lages and towns in Wicklow won't come to­gether to form se­nior teams. Maybe that's the thought of the man on the street, but I have ab­so­lutely no doubt that there would be enough peo­ple in most ar­eas who would be quite will­ing to have a go.’

As you have prob­a­bly guessed by now, Bro­phy was build­ing up to plug­ging the 'Kerry sys­tem' as the cure for all of Wicklow's ills. We will bring you more of that ar­ti­cle next week as well as Jim's sug­ges­tions for pos­si­ble group teams in Wicklow.


The new ref­er­ees' co-or­di­na­tor in Wicklow is Damien Byrne, Kil­te­gan, and like all of Martin's new men he is on the ball straight away. He in­tends to re­cruit new ref­er­ees as quickly as pos­si­ble and has set up a train­ing course to get them off on the right foot.

He has sent out a let­ter ask­ing clubs to put for­ward names of peo­ple who wish to take up ref­er­ee­ing within the county for the year ahead. There will be a course start­ing early Fe­bru­ary for begin­ners and we ap­peal to all clubs to dis­cuss this within their own club and seek per­son­nel for this course. He wants all names back in by Fri­day, Jan­uary 25. They should be sent to County Of­fice at Vale Road, Ark­low.


The first copy of the Wicklow Peo­ple on 7th Jan­uary 30 years ago de­voted a full page to set­ting the stage for the county G.A.A. Con­ven­tion, due to be held in Round­wood on the Sun­day. Pat Murphy had served four years as Chair­man but ru­mours were rife that he was not go­ing to stand again.

Chief re­porter N.J. Lawlor wrote that Murphy was still un­de­cided but af­ter go­ing through the list of nom­i­nees tipped yours truly to suc­ceed him. He got that one right but of the list of seven nom­i­nees only three al­lowed their names to go for­ward. The other two were Andy O'Neill, long-serv­ing Chair­man of the South Board, and John Coogan, Chair­man of the Bless­ing­ton club.

To fin­ish that one on a sad note, peo­ple nom­i­nated for po­si­tions at the Con­ven­tion that are no longer with us in­clude - the Pres­i­dent, Hugh Byrne; Cen­tral Coun­cil rep., Billy Lawless; the afore­men­tioned Andy O'Neill, one of the great characters of the time; Paddy Sul­li­van of Carnew; Pat Murphy, Ti­na­hely; Tom Lof­tus, Bray Em­mets, and the longserv­ing Ark­low man Pat Kinsella.


Now there is an in­ter­est­ing year for you and one that we ex­pect to get a lot of mileage from.

For starters we can tell you that the cham­pi­onship win­ners in foot­ball that year were Balt­in­glass, En­niskerry, Val­ley­mount and Annacurra. In hurl­ing it was St. Kevin’s, Bray Em­mets and Carnew.

So if any­one from any of the seven clubs would like to get in touch we would very much like to hear your story of success and how it was achieved.

For starters we can tell you that Pat ‘Rasher’ Roche had a great game for Wicklow in the first round of the SFC in Croke Park in May of that year. The team that was well beaten by Louth lined out as fol­lows: Andy Phillips; Joe Fitz­patrick, Pat Roche, Ol­lie Lawlor; Tommy Clarke, John Con­nell, Danny Byrne; Jim Coats, Mick Keddy; Wil­lie Cuffe, Tom McGee, Peter Clarke; Andy Cullen, Bobby Nolan, Jimmy Hat­ton.

The Mi­nor team, beaten by Louth that May day was: D. Doyle (Aughrim); J. Ward (Ash­ford), Sea­mus McDon­ald (Rath­new), J. Kir­wan (En­niskerry); Donal Keenan (Aughrim), S. McGrath (Ark­low), Brian Carthy (Ash­ford); Paddy Bol­ger (Val­ley­mount), John Coogan (Bless­ing­ton); An­drew Buchanan (Balt­in­glass), Seán Doyle (Carnew), Lar Nor­ton (Balt­in­glass); Joe Chad­wick (En­niskerry), P. Keogh (Carnew), D. McLough­lin (Bray Em­mets).


Ail­ish Cud­dihy R.I.P.: The death oc­curred last Wed­nes­day of Ail­ish Cud­dihy of Kilkenny, mother of our own Dr. Bren­dan Cud­dihy. The Cud­dihy fam­ily were steeped in the Gaelic tra­di­tion and par­tic­u­larly in hurl­ing. Bren­dan's fa­ther, Kieran, was Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer with the Kilkenny Se­nior hurl­ing team from 1950 to 1983 when he was re­placed by an­other son, Bill. Bren­dan is Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer with the Wicklow County Board of the G.A.A. and does tremen­dous work for both hurl­ing and foot­ball at club and county level. Our sym­pa­thy to Bren­dan and the ex­tended Cud­dihy fam­ily of Greystones and Kilkenny on their very sad loss.

Mag­dalen Coyle R.I.P.: I lost my own G.P. at the week­end with the death of Mag­dalen Coyle. Mag­dalen came from a North­ern Ire­land fam­ily with deep roots in the G.A.A. in Fer­managh and Antrim. How­ever, she spent most of her work­ing life in Balt­in­glass and loved the Slaney­side town. Our sym­pa­thy to her hus­band Malachy, sons, daugh­ter and ex­tended fam­ily.

Sally O'Byrne-Mathe­son R.I.P.: Kil­te­gan and the sur­round­ing area was shocked to hear of the death of Sally O'Byrne Mathe­son at the week­end. Sally also came from a strong G.A.A. back­ground. Her late hus­band, Fi­ach, was on the Rath­dan­gan team that brought the first SFC medal to this area back in 1930. Her son, Andy, and neph­ews, Michael, Ben and John Len­non, were also deeply in­volved as play­ers and men­tors with the Kil­te­gan club. Her funeral took place on Sun­day morn­ing af­ter Re­quiem Mass in Tal­bot­stown Church to Ty­na­clash Ceme­tery. Our sym­pa­thy to her hus­band Rod, son, daugh­ters and ex­tended fam­ily.

Mick Baker R.I.P.: The last re­main­ing link with the great Bal­li­na­cor tean of the 1940s and early '50s was sev­ered with the death of Mick Baker at the week end. A na­tive of Bal­ly­david in Kerry, Mick came as a young teacher to Wicklow in 1948, was straight away drafted into the Bal­li­na­cor and Wicklow teams and served both, first as a pow­er­ful mid­fielder and later at full-back.

He was laid to rest in Greenane Cemetary amongst many of the men he was proud to call team-mates. To his wife Martha, his sons Pat, Kevin, Michael and Bren­dan, daugh­ters Joan and Martha and ex­tended fam­ily we ten­der our sym­pa­thy. May they all rest in peace.

Can you name this team? All will be re­vealed in next week’s edi­tion.

Most peo­ple will recog­nise th­ese two prom­i­nent Gaels - any idea of the year this pho­to­graph was taken, and the event?

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