Dignam lets rip after Leitrim tie
COUNTY BOARD “ARE you satisfied with the present state of football in Wicklow?” Was the question asked by Hollywood GAA delegate Richard Burke at the County Board meeting in Ballinakill on Monday night last.
The Hollywood man’s question came in the wake of the disastrous performance by the Wicklow Senior footballers in their opening Division 4 league game against Leitrim in Aughrim on Sunday afternoon.
Burke was directing the question at the County Chairman Martin Coleman.
“Am I satisfield? I most certainly am not,” replied the County Chairman.
“And what are you going to do about it?” Burke pursued.
“What are we going to do about it?” offered Coleman. “I don’t know what we are going to do about it. What do you suggest we do about it?”
Richard Burke reminded the County Board meeting of a report that was conducted some years back where a raft of recommendations had been made with regard to the improvement of football in the county.
“It was left on a shelf. Take it back down, send the whole lot out to each club. Ask them for their recommendations, if any. Take the whole thing back in and put it together and have a special meeting because we are gone down the swanny. We have got to do something drastic. It’s an embarrassment now every time Wicklow plays.
“I would suggest that we would get that much done by the end of March, give the clubs the month of April to look at it and then come back to a general meeting some time in May,” he added.
Martin Coleman reminded Richard Burke that the County Board had facilitated the ‘Football Review’ some years ago but he added that he had no problem calling a meeting but suggested that the first thing that should be done is to ask for submissions from the clubs.
“We’ve got to do something drastic,” said Richard Burke, “at all levels”.
Rathnew Chairman Bobby Dignam remined the meeting about a meeting to discuss the Wicklow Senior manager Johnny Magee where only 12 clubs turned up. He then agreed with Richard Burke about the current situation with the Wicklow Senior footballers being “embarrassing”.
“I’m in agreement with Richard about the state of football in the county being embarrassing. I really just can’t figure out what we are going to do with the present set up. I watched a warm up yesterday that the likes of Dublin would do. Twenty minutes non stop running backwards and forwards across a pitch and then come out and run 70 minutes on a heavy pitch. It’s not Dublin he’s training. It’s Wicklow.
“Also, the team selection. I can’ understand what he’s doing.
“We had six Senior players on the subs yesterday, two from Blessington, two from Pat’s and two from Bray.
“These men have played Senior football in this county for the last 10 years and they’re not good enough to get on the county team.
“With the exception of young Jackson from Baltinglass who
is an exceptional goalkeeper, honest to God, it’s so embarrassing to go up there, I’ve been at all the O’Byrne Cup games bar one and, I mean, there is no progress. I don’t want to keep going on about this but it was an absolute disgrace the way we played yesterday. We were second best all over the place and we’re doing three or four nights a week for what.
“I swear to God, Chairman, I listened to Paddy Dalton on the radio saying he was a proud Wicklow man but we’re all proud Wicklow men here too and how Anthony McLoughlin was not on that field at midfield is beyond me,” added Bobby Dignam.
County Chairman Martin Coleman interjected to say that Anthony McLoughlin was just coming back from injury but Bobby Dignam reminded the Chairman of the fact that there were six Senior footballers on the bench.
“Six Senior footballers, Chairman, six Senior footballers on the sideline. I mean where are we going that these men can’t get their places.
“We are low enough in numbers for Senior players to commit to this county and Ok, Anto was injured, he’s a loyal servant to this county, but there’s one (player) from Baltinglass and they’re the county champions. I don’t know who’s picking the team but, obviously, he’s not doing the right job anyway.
“I’ve been opposed to him (Johnny Magee) for the length of term he’s there and I’ll oppose him until he’s gone. He has no clue whatsoever,” he added.
Richard Burke returned to the discussion to say that he didn’t attach any particular blame to either the Wicklow players or the management team but instead he said that the blame lied with the people in the room in Ballinakill on Monday night.
“The problem lies within this room, among all of us, we are all guilty and we’ve got to sort it out or else we’ll have to throw our hats at it,” he said.
St Pat’s delegate Eddie Leonard said that the County Board needed to bring back the status of the leagues and make them more competitive so that players could be developed.
“He said that the leagues are only leagues in name when Senior teams have to play Junior players to make up the numbers. He added that the championship is not really competitive until the latter stages.
Eddie Leonard added that Wicklow would have been expecting six pionts from the opneing three game sof this year’s Division 4 league but after Suay’s result against Leitrim they were now facing a tough task to travel to Waterford on Saturday evening.
Michael Sargent from Blessington lamented that Wicklow just don’t have the firepower up front to get the scores and he listed out the poor return from the last four games.
Bobby Dignam returned to the discussion to inform the meeting that they could hold all the meetings and reviews they wanted but the facts were that Wicklow had only one good match under Johnny Magee and that was against Meath in the championship in Navan.
“I think we are at the bottom of the barrell. He (Johnny Magee) should be gone, that’s it,” he added.
Leitrim’s Ryan O’Rourke is held off byWicklow’s Darren Hayden during the NFL in Joule Park Aughrim. Picture: Garry O’Neill