KEOGH’S COR­NER

Bray People - - SPORT - WITH PETER KEOGH

THE ALL POW­ER­FUL Dubs wrote an­other chap­ter in their il­lus­tri­ous his­tory on Sun­day and not for the first time two men of Wick­low de­scent played an im­por­tant role.

Eoghan O'Gara came very close to pip­ing Bro­gan for man of the match while Nickie Dev­ereux led the de­fence in style.

Any sug­ges­tions that the pair might go easy on Wick­low in the cham­pi­onship af­ter we have beaten Laois is for the birds.

Casey O'Brien's braves take on Kil­dare in the first round of the Christy Ring Cup at New­bridge on Satur­day and can do with all the sup­port they can get at this con­vent venue.

Win­ning the League Cup has to be a big boost to the team as they make an­other bit for Cham­pi­onship glory.

While the re­turn of Ea­monn Kearns in time for this match does not ap­pear to have worked out, Casey is still con­fi­dent that his side can do the job.

Christy Moore­house will be a big loss but re­ports from the camp are good, ev­ery­one else are fit and well and con­fi­dence is high.

Good luck also to Kil­te­gan who are the first of three Wick­low teams that will be con­test­ing the fi­nal of a Le­in­ster Club League fi­nal. That match against Mount­mel­lick of Laois will be played at Dr Cullen Park on Sun­day.

Where are they now?

To re­turn to that pic­ture of the Scoil Chon­glass team the ap­peared in the Cor­ner two weeks ago gives us a chance to look back on the part played by the Vo­ca­tional Schools - now called Post Pri­mary Schools - in the de­vel­op­ment of foot­ball in Wick­low but in par­tic­u­larly in the west of the County - or as a for­mer County Chair­man Pat Mur­phy called it, 'West of the Hills'.

The first Vo­ca­tional in the western area was set up in Balt­in­glass in the mid 1930s but was only find­ing its feet when the Sec­ond World War broke out in 1939. Sport of all sorts went on hold all over the coun­try at that time with only the well es­tab­lished cham­pi­onships sur­viv­ing.

Young men who up to that were spend­ing their Sun­days and any other time they could spare in the foot­ball fields were now en­list­ing in the Na­tional De­fence force or the Na­tional Se­cu­rity force and were spend­ing their week­ends drilling on vil­lage greens or other such places, pre­par­ing for the in­va­sion that never came.

Cloth­ing, footwear, and ev­ery­thing else were in short sup­ply and could only be pur­chased when you pro­duced your ra­tion book.

I can tell you that the army uni­form and the boots sup­plied to the re­cruits free with the job were very wel­come in­deed.

Procur­ing a foot­ball was an­other prob­lem. Leather was in very short sup­ply - it was re­quired for the very im­por­tant func­tion of mak­ing har­ness for the cav­alry on the bat­tle fields of Europe and other war time op­er­a­tions.

The foot­ball was a long way down the pri­or­i­ties list.

While the war ended in 1945, war time con­di­tions, in­clud­ing the ra­tion card, were still in op­er­at­ing up to the end of the decade.

It was only in 1949 that Vo­ca­tional Schools foot­ball got go­ing in a small way. While the first prop­erly con­sti­tuted Gaelic Games Com­mit­tee did not come un­til 1968, al­most 20 years later the Balt­in­glass School was mak­ing its pres­ence felt in the west long be­fore that.

Cork man, Ben Hooper, was the highly re­spected Prin­ci­pal at the time and he was mainly re­spon­si­ble for the first schools trans­port sys­tem in the west.

Pupils from as far away as Bless­ing­ton, Kil­bride, Dunlavin and even Bal­ly­more Eus­tace came to the Slaney­side town to re­ceive their sec­ond level ed­u­ca­tion.

Up to that time the foot­ball power in west Wick­low was to be found mainly in the small vil­lages.

Bless­ing­ton, then just a vil­lage at the end of a tramway line from the city brought the first ever Se­nior foot­ball cham­pi­onship to the west in 1915.

Next to col­lect sil­ver was Gran­abeg, a lit­tle towns­land in the par­ish of Val­ley­mount.

That was in 1923 and at that time an­other foot­ball strong­hold was just emerg­ing in the south west.

The lit­tle vil­lage of Rath­dan­gan had just served no­tice that it was on the way by win­ning the Ju­nior cham­pi­onship in 1924 and tak­ing their place in Se­nior ranks.

They could scarcely have cho­sen a worse time to en­ter Se­nior ranks; the mighty men of Rath­new were the cham­pi­ons while the great An­nacurra team of the day were go­ing stronger than ever.

They won the Se­nior cham­pi­onship for the next two years and were bid­ding for a sec­ond 'three in a row'. Carnew and Kil­coole were also knock­ing at the door at the time leav­ing lit­tle room for new­com­ers from the west.

Rome or no room Rath­dan­gan made it to the top; af­ter los­ing the 1928 fi­nal to the might men of Rath­new they came storm­ing back to beat the men from the thatched vil­lage in the fi­nal of 1930 and so be­came the third club from the west to bring the Cup back across the moun­tain. They went one bet­ter than Bless­ing­ton or Gran­abeg by win­ning a sec­ond ti­tle in 1936.

The other foot­ball power in the west up to then was Hol­ly­wood. They were al­ways there or there­abouts in se­nior foot­ball.

They reached two county fi­nals in the 1930's but never made the break­through. An­nacurra beat them on a re­play in 1931 to take their ninth Se­nior ti­tle while in 1939 it was Kil­coole that stood in the way. The men from the 'Goose­bank' win­ning that fi­nal by 2-10 to 1-2 against an ag­ing western side.

An­other lit­tle vil­lage, Donard, ar­rived on the scene in the 1930s and made the big­gest im­pres­sion of them all for over 20 years. They won six Se­nior cham­pi­onships from 1937 to 1957 and at the peek of their pow­ers were sup­ply­ing al­most half of the half the Wick­low county team as well as hav­ing three play­ers - Paddy Len­non, Jim Rodgers and Gerry O'Reilly on the Le­in­ster Rail­way Cup team. They were the fourth west Wick­low club to crash the suc­cess bar­rier in Se­nior ranks.

Up to that time the towns like Baltin- glass and Dunlavin were mak­ing lit­tle progress. Balt­in­glass had won a Ju­nior cham­pi­onship in 1913 and claimed a piece of his­tory by play­ing and win­ning the fi­nal against New­cas­tle at a venue that was soon to be­come Croke Park.

You may well ask why two Ju­nior teams from Wick­low were brought all the way to a north Dublin venue to play a county fi­nal.

Trans­port dif­fi­cul­ties in the moun­tains was prob­a­bly the an­swer. The Great South­ern Rail­way had just opened a branch line from Sallins in Kil­dare to Tul­low in Car­low. It went through that part of west Wick­low that took in Dunlavin, Grange­con, and Balt­in­glass and gave that area a mighty lift both so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally.

On the east­ern side of the county the train passed through New­cas­tle so both teams could just step on the train and travel in com­fort to the city in­stead of try­ing to find a neu­tral venue some­where in the Wick­low Moun­tains. - made sense.

Com­pare that to the west Wick­low we have to­day. Since vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion came to the west with schools in Balt­in­glass, Dunlavin, and Bless­ing­ton, things have def­i­nitely changed.

Just to prove the point we will draw a com­par­i­son. When CM Byrne and Wick­low People jour­nal­ist P.J. Noo­nan sat down to com­pile the his­tory of the first 50 years of GAA in Wick­low they found that only on three oc­ca­sions had the se­nior ti­tle crossed the hills to the west.

We saw the first real in­put of the VS in 1958 when Balt­in­glass won their first SFC.

Al­most all of that team were past pupils of the lo­cal Vo­ca­tional School. Take the next 50 years from 1958 to 2008 and 26 of the SFCs came to the west; Balt­in­glass won 21; Dunlavin and Kil­te­gan two each and Bless­ing­ton one.

Again the great ma­jor­ity of the play­ers in­volved on all teams were past pupils of the three lo­cal Vo­ca­tional Schools. I rest my case

Last Week’s Pic­ture

Jackie Napier, Ea­monn Darcy and Ned Fo­ley were the first call­ers with the right an­swer and were able to name all, or nearly all of the play­ers in the pic­ture. It was the Le­in­ster Rail­way

Cup team of 1955 and came from the ar­chives of Tommy Ke­hoe.

There are two great Wick­low men in the pic­ture - Joe Fitz­patrick from Wick­low town and Jim Rogers from Donard. That should have been three be­cause when the pro­gramme was printed Gerry O'Rielly was listed at right half back.

He cried off very late be­cause with Dublin's Kevin Hef­fer­nan com­ing in to the team. That caused a reshuf­fle with Stephen White of Louth drop­ping back to fill O'Reilly's place and Heffo tak­ing over his usual place in the for­wards.

That was the day when Le­in­ster won their fourth Rail­way Cup in a row which proved the strength of foot­ball in the prov­ince at the time.

The fact that Wick­low had three play­ers on the start­ing 15 was also an in­di­ca­tion of the health of the game in the Gar­den County at the time. Meath were rul­ing the roost in Le­in­ster at the time, hav­ing won their sec­ond All Ire­land fi­nal in 1954 and they had six play­ers on the team. Dublin had three and Wick­low two but had the team lined out as selected that would have been re­versed - Wick­low would have had three and Dublin two

Ac­cord­ing to Jackie Napier, Billy Law­less was one of the se­lec­tors and the of­fi­cial in charge - the equiv­a­lent of 'team man­ager' in to­day's lingo.

Oth­ers to come with the cor­rect an­swer in­clude Martin Doogue (re­lated to Andy Mur­phy).

The Men in the Pic­ture

Back row -L to R - Cathal O'Leary; Kevin Hef­fer­nan, Joe Fitz­patrick, Jim Rogers, Tom Mo­ri­ar­ity, Mick O'Brien and Paddy Casey

Front - Ol­lie Franey, Kevin McCon­nell, Stephen White, Patsy Gearty, Andy Mur­phy, Jim McDon­nell, Mat­tie McDonell and Paddy O'Brien.

Times past

This week we turn the clock back 30 years to the cen­te­nary of the foun­da­tion of the As­so­ci­a­tion to see what was go­ing on in the Gar­den County at the time.

The Cunningham Cup

The Cunningham Cup, a tro­phy do­nated to the old North Wick­low Board by Meath man, Bill Cunningham, for a lo­cal com­pe­ti­tion had just gone county wide af­ter the District Boards were scrapped and was hav­ing a new lease of life.

Donard made the trip across the hills to play En­niskerry at Park­nasil­logue but found them­selves train­ing by 0-1 to 1-6 at half time.

Then a great fight back sparked off by two goals by Tommy Dwyer and an­other by Paul Moni­han saw then scrape a win 3-3 to 1-8.

Donard - M. Flynn, J. Lawlor, E. Dwyer, D. Hickey; S Lynch, John Egar, E. Doyle; Tony Walsh, T. Moyni­han; P. Lawlor, M. Man­ley, (0-2), Egar; P. Moyni­han (1-0,) G. Egar, T. Wyer (2-1).

En­niskerry - P. Driver; D. Driver, T. Gor- man, J. Cronin; P. Sher­lock, T. Cronin, P. Vaughen; (0-2), J. Cameron, P. McHugh (0-2); Gerry Cor­bett (0-1), J. Chad­wick; J. Tobin (0-2), P. Mur­phy, J. Martin (1-1), A. Nolan.

The ref­eree was Jim­mie O'Keeffe, Kil­coole.

Nancy O'Toole R.I.P.

The death took place on Fri­day of one of Rath­dan­gan's old­est and most re­spected res­i­dents Nancy O'Toole.

Nancy was close to her 96th birth­day and her life span, and that of her late hus­band, cov­ers cov­ered the greater part of the his­tory of the GAA in Rath­dan­gan.

Her hus­band Tom O'Toole cap­tained Rath­dan­gan to win their first ever foot­ball cham­pi­onship in 1924, ex­actly 90 years ago.

Even be­fore that he was on a Hack­et­stown par­ish team that won the Car­low JFC in 1923.

Tom was cap­tain when Rath­dan­gan crashed the Se­nior bar­rier in 1930, beat­ing Rath­new in the fi­nal by 2-5 to 1-1.

He was still cap­tain when the lit­tle vil­lage at the gate­way to the west won the SFC again in 1936. Her fam­ily are still deeply in­volved in GAA af­fairs. Son Jim won an un­der-16 foot­ball cham­pi­onship with Balt­in­glass be­fore play­ing with the Rath­dan­gan team. Michael is ar­guably one of the best known men in Wick­low GAA;

He won a to­tal of eight Se­nior cham­pi­onship medals be­tween foot­ball and hurl­ing with the St Te­gan's Club that re­placed the old Rath­dan­gan club. He was on the Wick­low Se­nior foot­ball team for over 10 years, win­ning an O'Byrne Cup medal in 1986.

Her daugh­ters are all deeply in­volved in the GAA, in both camo­gie, foot­ball, and hurl­ing.

One of her grand­sons - Brendan Mur­phy was an Aussie Rules and Car­low county player. One of her grand­daugh­ters Maura Mur­phy was a con­tes­tant in the 'Rose of Tralee fi­nals. No won­der she had such pride in her fam­ily.

Nancy her­self was pres­i­dent of the Kil­te­gan Camo­gie Club and held that post up to her death.

All GAA and camo­gie ac­tiv­i­ties in Kil­te­gan and Rath­dan­gan were sus­pended at the weekend as a mark of re­spect

The mem­bers of the Kil­te­gan Camo­gie Club formed as guard of hon­our at her fu­neral which was one of the big­gest in the area in years.

Our sin­cere sym­pa­thy to her sons, daugh­ters, grand­chil­dren, great grand­chil­dren and ex­tended fam­ily.

May she rest in peace.

Some fine strap­ping young men in the pic­ture above. But can you name them and the com­pe­ti­tion in which they are about to play on what looks to be a sunny day? If so con­tact Peter on 087 6907589 or email pe­terkeogh­gaa@gmail.com.

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