The Irish Mail on Sunday
Home thoughts from abroad led to welcome return for
FOR SO long the modern face of Wicklow football, a season-ending injury last year saw Leighton Glynn head to California for the summer last year.
‘I cleared the head by heading to San Fran for three months,’ he explains. But the game still took a hold of him. He trained the Ulster club over there who went on to win the North American Championships and in a week when the GAA announced details of the worldwide-web broadcasting deal with RTÉ for Championship games, he found out what life was like for all those living abroad.
‘You check all the websites and Twitter for games. I watched our Championship game against Longford and paid $20 like everyone else to watch it in a bar.
‘We won that and I watched the Meath game in pure enjoyment until they caught us near the end. That’s when you feel low out there, you feel alone. It was weird watching your team play, but that Meath game was mad. We missed a penalty and Kevin Reilly kicked a ball from 70 yards and it went in – I was gutted.
‘But they set me up with a good physio and I made a good recovery – with a week-and-half to go until my trip was over we drew our local neighbours back home in the Wicklow championship and I came back a week earlier,’ continues the Rathnew club man. ‘The parish rivalry was more important. I came on for the last 15 minutes and we won – I was back to basics pretty quickly!’
Intense parish rivalry has been cited as holding Wicklow football back, a theory Glynn dismisses. ‘It’s all c**p. It’s overblown and it’s an excuse, more so for the supporters and fans. The rivalry between Baltinglass and Rathnew is massive, we save our biggest battles for them but pull on a Wicklow jersey and I would do the same thing for a Baltinglass man that I would for a Rathnew man.
‘When you are with the county you are away from the club scene. You are not thinking parochial – it’s solely about the county.’
Without Glynn, Wicklow’s summer ended in a qualifier defeat by Armagh. It hasn’t been easy for Harry Murphy in succeeding Kerry legend Mick O’Dwyer.
The breakthrough in gaining promotion from Division 4 in 2012 was followed by relegation the next year, while they narrowly missed out on bouncing back this year.
Glynn fondly recalls how O’Dwyer’s oldschool methods brought Wicklow to the last 12 in 2009. ‘He would go to different clubs and he’d hold open training sessions. There was nothing hitech about them − you would just run laps. There would be 50-60 at any ground, people just watching us run 30 laps!