PHEW! What a start to the New Year! We have just reached the end of the first full week in Jan­uary and I for one am start­ing to feel weak at the knees al­ready.

Six in­ter-county matches, three in se­nior and three in U-21 foot­ball - and this is what we once called the 'closed sea­son'. Heaven help us when the real ac­tion starts up.

Any­way the ac­tion has, over­all been good; the weather has be­haved and while all the re­sults did not go our way, sure we can't have ev­ery­thing.

Did I read some­thing about player burn out lately? What about us? Do we not count at all?

At this rate of go­ing we will have been through what used to be our an­nual quota of GAA matches be­fore St Pa­trick's Day!

Where are they now?

The team in last week's pa­per was the Balt­in­glass men of 1965 and what made them unique was the fact that they kicked off the first three-in-a-row in Se­nior foot­ball in the Slaney­side town.

In fact it was the first time that a club west of the hills had landed three ti­tles in a row in Se­nior foot­ball, to this day Balt­in­glass are still one of only three clubs to bring home three or more Se­nior foot­ball ti­tle in a row.

The other two are Rath­new who did it a num­ber of times and St Pa­trick's.

Annacurra are cred­ited in most records with win­ning the first three ti­tles ever de­cided in 1887, '88 and '89.

But when Jim Bro­phy was com­pil­ing the 1984 his­tory of Wicklow GAA he found ev­i­dence that a club called Clara won a ti­tle in 1888 and since he was un­able to dis­prove that, he set­tled for di­vid­ing the ti­tle of that year be­tween Annacurra and Clara, in the be­lief that there could have been two fi­nals played.

Balt­in­glass had just won their third ti­tle that year, which was enough to give then a spe­cial place in the West Wicklow record books. It had put them one ahead of Rath­dan­gan who had won two ti­tles in the 1930's but still left them trail­ing Donard who had won six ti­tles. The only other Se­nior ti­tles to cross the hills to the west were won by Bless­ing­ton in 1915 and Gran­abeg (Val­ley­mount) in 1923.

The Donard record of six did not last that much longer; Balt­in­glass equalled it in 1971 when they beat Carnew in the fi­nal and then went out on their own a year later when they beat an­other West team Dunlavin in the fi­nal.

Since then Balt­in­glass raised the bar even higher with an eight-in-a-row and are now in sec­ond place in the ta­ble be­hind Rath­new with 21 ti­tles.

The men in the pic­ture

Back row: Bill Nolan, Ken Browne, Bobby Nolan, John Rogers, Noel Scott, Char­lie Con­nell, An­drew Buchan­nan, John Con­nell and Ned Nolan.

Front: Billy Wall, Pat Rogers, Lar Nor­ton, Johnny, Tom Scott, Jim O'Ke­effe, Tony Nor­ton.

The sec­ond pic­ture

The other pic­ture in last week's is­sue re­calls an­other unique moment in his­tory.

The two men in deep con­cen­tra­tion be­hind their desk at the Wicklow Con­ven­tion of 1991 both served as Pres­i­dents of the As­so­ci­a­tion.

In fact they were the only two Wicklow men to reach the sum­mit in the As­so­ci­a­tion they served so long and so well.

Hugh Byrne, the teacher from Rath­coyle, be­came the first Wicklow man to be elected Pres­i­dent in 1961 af­ter he had served as player or men­tor at club, county and pro­vin­cial level on his way to the top.

Jack Booth­man fol­lowed in Hugh's foot­steps, start­ing out with his na­tive Bless­ing­ton and pro­gress­ing along al­most the same path to the very top.

Both were able and very pop­u­lar lead­ers and did much to lift the pro­file of Wicklow at na­tional level. But how of­ten did they sit be­hind the same ta­ble?

Not too of­ten I would guess, so this may be a rare enough pic­ture.

The case for the group team

by Jim Bro­phy Con­tin­u­ing with the case for the group team as made by Jim Bro­phy over 20 years ago we should for­get about the tra­di­tional place names and go for some like Michael Dwyers, St Mary's, St Ni­cholas, per­haps Cor­bett Gaels in­stead: “Many years ago in South Kerry a district team from the area was formed and won their first county cham­pi­onship. It was an area where there were sharp di­vi­sions for many years, but five years ear­lier a group of men of vi­sion had man­aged to bring them to­gether to build a team and put all the di­vi­sions be­hind them and brought county hon­ours to the area.

From that team Kerry got men like Jerome O'Shea, Mick O'Dwyer, Mick O'Con­nell, and many oth­ers who were to wear the Kerry jersey with dis­tinc­tion. Group teams have been dom­i­nat­ing the Kerry SFC ever since”.

That was over 20 years ago and Jim went on to sug­gest pos­si­ble work­able groups in Wicklow: “Take Ark­low as an ex­am­ple, in the area we have ARP, Ark­low Geraldines Bal­ly­money and Avoca.

The in­ter­est it would gen­er­ate in Ark­low to have a Se­nior foot­ball team of their own, while th­ese lads could still be avail­able to their clubs.

Take places like Val­ley­mount, Hol­ly­wood and Donard - why shouldn't they have a Se­nior team. Let's hope some­one other than Michael Dwyers will have the courage to have a go.

North Wicklow is one place where it is badly needed be­cause we have now only one Se­nior team in the area.”

We will move on from that be­cause a num­ber of clubs that Jim men­tioned like Bray Em­mets, New­town, Greystones and Kil­coole have since be­ing field­ing Se­nior teams, so progress has been made with­out the group team. He fin­ished with this com­ment: “A lot of peo­ple may say that this can't be done. I say it MUST be done if the GAA in the county is to sur­vive”.

That was the opin­ion of a man that was born and bred into the GAA and spent a life­time fol­low­ing the game. What do you think?

Devel­op­ment Squads

Paul Gar­ri­gan is on the warpath early this year and wants to re­mind Ju­ve­nile men­tors, in par­tic­u­lar any­one over U-15 foot­ball teams that Devel­op­ment Squads are be­ing put in place at present. The county U-15 foot­ball tri­als will take place on Satur­day

Fe­bru­ary 19. Th­ese tri­als will take place in Laragh at 11am. Can all clubs please in­form all play­ers of th­ese tri­als? Fur­ther tri­als will take place the fol­low­ing week for play­ers who can­not make tri­als on Satur­day.

Please note all play­ers must be born in 1998 and this must be their fi­nal year play­ing at U-15 level. It is very im­por­tant that all clubs send their best play­ers as this is a new squad the county are pre­par­ing for 2013.

Please con­tact Paul at the num­ber be­low if you have any queries in re­la­tion to

the tri­als or if play­ers can­not at­tend. Paul Gar­ri­gan, Wicklow GDA - 0834366801


We got this ques­tion from a north Wicklow reader. Name the player who won three cham­pi­onship medals with his club in 2012?

Ref­er­ees Train­ing Course

New ref­er­ees co­or­di­na­tor Damien Byrne is not let­ting the grass grow un­der his feet. He has re­fresher cour­ses for ex­ist­ing refs and train­ing for begin­ners coming up at fol­lows -

Ref­er­ees in ser­vice course: for all present ref­er­ees will take place on Tues­day Fe­bru­ary 12 in the county grounds at 7.30pm sharp, it is im­por­tant that all ref­er­ees at­tend

Ref­er­ees Begin­ners coarse for hurl­ing and foot­ball will com­mence on Fe­bru­ary 19 and run for three nights: 19th, 26th Fe­bru­ary and March 5, all start­ing at 7.30pm sharp so please get your name into county of­fice a.s.a.p. or con­tact Damien Byrne on 087 6792761

Gath­er­ing '13

As was re­ported pre­vi­ously county man­age­ment pledged dur­ing 2012 that they would sup­port clubs wish­ing to take part in this his­tor­i­cal ap­proach to­wards com­mu­ni­ties remembering their fam­i­lies and friends that have left them over the years.

Na­tion­wide the in­ter­est in this oc­ca­sion is grow­ing by the day and sup­port­ing this in­ter­est Wicklow GAA have a com­mit­tee in place with County Devel­op­ment of­fi­cer Andy O'Brien as chair­man and newly elected Cul­tural Of­fi­cer Ray Men­ton as sec­re­tary, a com­mit­tee coming from clubs through­out the coun- ty, in­clud­ing Cllr. Tom For­tune

With the sup­port of the CCC com­mit­tee it is pro­posed to al­low the June Bank Hol­i­day week­end be fix­tures free as far as pos­si­ble, de­vot­ing the three days to mark­ing the gath­er­ing at club and county level.

At club level the com­mit­tee is sug­gest­ing to clubs to hold a La nag Club on the Bank Hol­i­day Mon­day, a very suc­cess­ful day of ac­tiv­i­ties they held in the past how­ever on this oc­ca­sion they may wish to in­vite clubs from Eng­land, Europe or fur­ther afield if they so wish.

It is hoped that again clubs would use this week­end to pro­mote their clubs and their fa­cil­i­ties, in­volv­ing young and old.

At county level the fix­tures com­mit­tee is invit­ing clubs to par­tic­i­pate in a week­end com­pe­ti­tion held over the Satur­day and the fi­nals on Sun­day in the county grounds.

At this stage Andy O'Brien at a re­cent fo­rum meet­ing in­vited clubs to par­tic­i­pate in the Gath­er­ing week­end by them invit­ing a club from abroad if they wished, pos­si­bly some clubs may wish to in­vite both a Ju­ve­nile group along with a adult group to their par­ish.

Some clubs are con­sid­er­ing re­new­ing their re­la­tion­ships devel­oped dur­ing Feile Com­pe­ti­tions over the years, a com­pe­ti­tion which cre­ated great friend­ships.

So as we en­ter the year of the Gath­er­ing, the Wicklow GAA or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee en­cour­age clubs to take part, the for­mat and ex­tent is not the im­por­tant thing rather com­mu­nity involvement with a thought for those that are away ei­ther by choice or ne­ces­sity.

The com­mit­tee ac­knowl­edges the work that some clubs have com­pleted to date in re­la­tion to the Gath­er­ing '13, and wish clubs to con­tact them if they feel the com­mit­tee can be of any help to them, as the oc­ca­sion is cel­e­brated at both club and county lev­els it is im­por­tant that cel­e­bra­tions are com­pleted within the agreed bud­get.

The gen­eral view within GAA cir­cles is that the Garden County will re­mem­ber their mem­bers and friends that are away and where pos­si­ble in­vite some of them to be in­volved in their cel­e­bra­tions, whether the team that won a cham­pi­onship 20 years ago, or where pos­si­ble all mem­bers are here in Ire­land, that feile team that stayed in the lo­cal com­mu­nity years ago, a group from Eng­land, a video link from “a dis­tance” to a club event, or a recorded mes­sage.

Where were thee in '93?

In the month of Jan­uary that year they were cel­e­brat­ing in Bless­ing­ton and had a sell-out crowd at their din­ner dance in the Down­shire House Ho­tel. Guest of hon­our was Wicklow 'Foot­baller of the Year' Kevin O'Brien.

There was a great pic­ture of Kevin with Cather­ine Gor­man, his own sis­ter Ann and her part­ner Paddy Quinn.

While Bless­ing­ton did not know it at the time they were stand­ing on the thresh­old of what was, ar­guably, to be the great­est year in the Club's his­tory. How­ever that story will hold for an­other day.

U-21 FC

For many years we have been told that you can't run an U-21 cham­pi­onship in Wicklow and we take that for granted.

Twenty years ago the U-21 foot­ball cham­pi­onship was go­ing great guns in the month of Fe­bru­ary, the stan­dard of foot­ball was good and the play­ing con­di­tions prompted the scribe in the 'Wicklow Peo­ple' to write: “Play­ing con­di­tions were very good, just goes to show that fix­tures can't be made by the cal­en­dar; you des­ig­nate mid-win­ter as a closed sea­son and the sun shines; Spring is here you say, it's time to start up and what hap­pens - the rain, the frost and even the snow ap­pears again”.

Play­ing for Michael Dwyers in a big win over Ti­na­hely were Sean Hughes, Stephen Car­roll, Michael Boland, Alan Carthy; Pat Tracey, De­nis Kinsella, Lor­can Byrne, Joe Clancy, John O'Toole, John Har­mon, Paul Whe­lan, Eu­gene Canna, Michael Fo­ley, Gerry Boland and Damien Byrne.

Stars on the Ti­na­hely team that day in­cluded Nicky Murphy, Brian Mo­ran, Peter Be­han, Conor O'Dare, Ciaran Kenny, An­thony Murphy, Sean Kenny, James Mul­hall and John Ga­han.

Jane Byrne R.I.P.

The death of Jeanie Byrne at an ad­vanced age in Balt­in­glass Hospi­tal on Sun­day re­moved one of the last links with the great Rath­dan­gan team of the 1930's. Her hus­band John Byrne was a key player on that team.

'Long Johnny' as he was fondly known to all was one of the finest mid­field­ers of the time and ruled the mid­dle when Rath­dan­gan brought home SFC ti­tles to the lit­tle vil­lage in 1930 and '36. Jane was in­terred in Crana­reen ceme­tery on Tues­day af­ter re­quiem Mass in Kil­lamoat church

We ex­tend our sym­pa­thy to daugh­ter Mary and ex­tended fam­ily

May she rest in peace.

A se­ri­ous chal­lenge this week we think. If you can fig­ure out the team and the men in it then con­tact Peter on 087 6907589 or email pe­terkeogh­

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