All roads lead to Aughrim
ALL roads lead to Aughrim once again on Saturday evening to see Wicklow take on Offaly in the first round of the qualifiers.
Since this new system was introduces some years ago we have faired out fairly well in the draw, getting quite a number of home games.
That gives fans who may not fancy travelling long journeys the chance to come out and support their team on home soil.
And make no mistake about it a good, vocal home support is very important. It can lift the team when things may not be going well and give everyone, players, mentors and supporters a sense of belonging.
The Faithful County will still not be easy pickings, they never are but they are in our division of the league now and are beatable on any given day.
Our own display against Laois was not bad for three quarters of the game and when you see what Laois did against the Dubs for three quarters of their next game we were not that bad at all.
What is needed on Saturday is a fine evening, just like what we are having; a full strength and fully committed Team and a good attendance to give them the back-up they need.
Admission is by ticket only as at all venues now; and tickets are easy to purchase at any of the stalls in the grounds - car parking free.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
The fine team of young footballers in last week's corner were from Dunlavin, or so Tony Allen tells us.
They were the first team from the Kildare border club to reach a county Senior football final and while the occasion, the circumstances plus a very talented Baltinglass team proved too much for them on the day they had still had still opened the gate to senior success and travelled a road that other teams from the Village could follow in future years.
In the history of Football in Dunlavin - the 'Sons of St Nicholas' Jimmy Whittle said 'this was what all clubs wished for, a place in a county Senior football final, and the dream of at last reaching the top'.
A first day on the big pitch in Aughrim is always a challenge for a team from the West of the County that would have gotten few chances to play in the grounds. With the possible exception of Kilbride I doubt if any team from the West survived at the first time of asking so Dunlavin was no different.
Probably the fact that the semi-final against western neighbours Kilbride was played in Blessington was another setback. While they won that game comfortable by 3-7 to 0-10 it would have helped a lot if this young team had got a run out on the Aughrim pitch.
To add greatly to the problems that Dunlavin faced was a sad and rather tragic event in the village on the build up to the final.
Denis Kelly was one of Dunlavin's greatest Gaels. He was a player, referee, club secretary and anything else one could mention.
He has served as secretary of the old West board for 21 years and was the Wicklow People's GAA correspondent for the area.
When Dunlavin made it through to the final for the first time Denis was asked to write the preview. He had just completed what must have been the most pleasant task he had ever been given and was about to post the document when he died suddenly.
The village, the community and all of west Wicklow were in shock. His son Johnny was on the Dunlavin team but his participation was now in great doubt.
The sad funeral over, the match going ahead, Johnny took the decision he knew his Da would have wanted - he lined out with the team.
However it was hardly the sort of preparation that Johnny or the team would have wanted. They may have lost that day but the team did not go away; they were beaten again by Baltinglass after a three match marathon in 1974 but they were still team building. With talented young players like Pat O'Toole, Johnny Allen and Eamonn Dunne from the Wicklow Minor team that won the only Leinster championship in that grade; Joe English, Pat Kelly and Billy Walsh joining the panel they the had strength in dept as they qualified for another bash at the title in 1977.
Standing in their way this time was St. Patrick's from Wicklow town, a team with a good championship record.
However the experience they had gained in '72 stood to the Dunlavin team on the big day and they came good to make the big breakthrough to bring 'Miley' to the border town for the first time.
Incidentally the picture came from the Tommy Coleman Collection.
Pat O'Neill of Whitestown was another to recognise the picture and to give us the names.
The men in the picture as named by Tony Allen and others were: Back Row: Tommy Foley, Tommy Allen, Charley Daynes, Pat Brophy, Liam Keogh, Jim Kerwan, Tom McPartland and Larry Miley.
Front: Liam Mulcahy, Harry Corrigan, Johnny Kelly, Willie Whelan, Pat Corrigan (capt), Frank Campbell, Toby Miley and Tom Corrigan.
The subs (not in the picture were) - Paddy Rouse, Denis Birchall, Pat Byrne, Pat Esmond, Sean Daynes, James Whelan, Bill Byrne, and Johnny Litchfield.
Club officers that year were - Chairman: Pat Whelan; Secretary: Liam Burke, Treasurer: Ger Whelan.
WHEN WICKLOW WERE EXPELLED
This week we intended to take another look at a camogie story brought up by Tommy Glynn some time back - the day that a Wicklow camogie team won the Gold medals at the Tailtean Games in Croke Park but the gold medals has scarcely got time to warm in their pockets or purses when all hell broke loose.
While they had been selected to represent Ireland against London on this big highly rated occasion and had, or appeared to have the backing of everyone the officers of their own Association took a different view. Full story next week.
ODDS AND ENDS
Wicklow had a good under-16 hurling team in 1980; they beat Kildare in the first round of the All-Ireland B Championship but we caught up with them after they had trounced Louth - 6-10 to 0-1 at Ashford in the second round.
Team: Hugh Cullen (Kiltegan); James Wilkinson (St. Pat's), Andy Coleman (Kiltegan), Denis Kilbride (Carnew); Mickey Byrne (Kiltegan), John Lynch (Carnew), Paul Byrne (Glenealy); J.J. Doyle (Aughrim), Ger Murphy (Aughrim); Kevin Byrne (Kiltegan), Tom Byrne (St. Pat's), Joey Doyle (Avoca); Jimmy Davis (Aughrim), P.J. O'Keeffe (Carnew), and Stephen Browne (Barndarrig). Subs were Seamus Rawsome (Carnew); Patrick Lawlor (St. Pat's); Declan Byrne (Kiltegan), Martin Egan (St. Pat's) and Paul Browne (Barndarrig).
We take a look back this week to the year 1987 and the month of June when Wicklow were preparing to take on Louth in the quarter-final of the Leinster Senior football Championship.
We had got a bye in the first round and had a home venue for this one.
After causing such a big upset the year by beating league champions Laois, hopes were high enough but Mark Kennedy in his preview had dampened expectations when he reported in his preview that only 10 Wicklow players had turned up for a pre-championship work-out against Cavan.
Anyway the team selected to do duty against Louth on that June day in Aughrim was: Matt Gartland (Kiltegan); Sean O'Brien (Baltinglass), Seamus Morris (Tinahely), Mick O'Toole (Kiltegan); Denis Kilbride (Carnew), Nick O'Neill (Stratford), Mick Murtsagh (Dunlavin); Pat O'Byrne (Aughrim), Billy Kenny (Baltinglass); Ashley O'Sullivan (Dunlavin ), J.J. Doyle (Tinahely), Pat Baker (Avondale); Robert McHugh (Baltinglass), Richie Griffin (St. Pat's) and Gerry Doyle (Barndarrig).
The subs listed were: John Walsh (Bray Emmets), Jim Cush (Arklow Gers), John Lynch (Newtown), Pat Spollen and Phillip Healy (St. Pat's); Ray Clarke; Pat Murphy (Tinahely), Ned Cremin (Kiltegan), Kevin Baker (Avondale), Ed Jameson (Rathnew), Conor Byrne and Brendan Barnes.
How things have not changed - Just after I came home from the match in Hollywood on Thursday night I found a cutting from an old copy of the Wicklow People.
It was a report on the West Football Feile final of 20 years ago where St. Kevin's had beaten Dunlavin. Top scorer was Tony Hannon with 0-9; Keith Burke was another of the high scorers on the Hollywood team. Both were on the Hollywood team on that same evening in the SFL. Old soldiers never die
FOOTBALL SKILLS - 1994 STYLE
Another cutting told me that the inaugural schools skills competition was held in Laragh that year with Hugh Kenny in charge.
The first years winner was Stephen Mitchell, Abbey CC; First year hurling winner was Barry Sheehan, Avondale CC; Junior football - Dermott Richardson Blessington CC. Nicola Newsome, Avondale CC was the junior Camogie winner.
A HURLING 'FIRST'
Scoil Chonglais in Baltinglass won the county junior hurling title for the first time, beating De La Salle in the final. (We can see the cut of Dave Halahan's axe in that one).
Team: Brian Sleator, Paul Howe, Niall Foley, Ciaran Byrne; Patsy Doyle, Eoin McMahon, Wayne Moore; Gavin Wynne, Keith Furlong; Anthony Furlong, Raymond Lawlor, Anthony Nolan; Sean Byrne, Alan Byrne, and Brendan Daly.
HURLING IN '87
The Glenealy team that beat St. Patrick's in the Senior B final of that year by 2-16 to 0-7 lined out like this: Don Gorman; John O'Neill, Eamon Esmonde, Andrew Fitzgerald; David Conyard, Ger Kinsella, Finbar Gorman; Wally Manley, Colm Luddy; Tommy Glynn, Berney Byrne, Mickey O'Neill; John O'Brien, John Glynn, and Cathal Byrne.
The St. Pat's team: Pat Lawlor; Tom Keogh, Liam Delaney, Nick Cernnan; Pat Carroll, David Bury, Damien O'Mara; Phelim Doyle, William Carey; Casey O'Brien, Joe Verney, George Johnson; Sean O'Brien, Tom Byrne, Seamus Ryan.
THE RAILWAY CUP TEAMS
Remember we threw out an invitation to select their own Leinster Railway Cup team made up from Wicklow players that had worn the Green Jerseys of the province
We got the first reply this week from a former Kiltegan and Wicklow goal keeper Matt Gartland. Matt explained that with the exception of two players - Andy Phillips and Gerry O'Reilly, he had picked from players that he had either played with or against or had saw playing.
Matt's team: Andy Phillips; Ciaran Hyland, Hugh Kenny, Leighton Glynn; Raymond Danne, Pat O'Toole, Gerry O'Reilly; Tommy Gill, James Stafford, Jacko Dalton; Peter Clarke, Tommy Murphy, Kevin O'Brien. Beat that!
Gerry Gibbons R.I.P.
The death occurs on Thursday of a great Kilkenny man Gerry Gibbons who gave long and loyal service to Wicklow Hurling.
Gerry came to work and live in Wicklow in the late 1960's and played hurling with three different Club during his time in the Garden County, Newcastle, Kilcoole and Bray Emmets.
He was selected on the Wicklow hurling team and helped them to win the Leinster Junior championship in 1968.
Three years later he was a key player on the team that won Leinster again and then went on to add an all Ireland title.
Gerry passed away in Waterford Hospital and his remains reposed in Carpenter's funeral home in Carlow on Friday where large numbers of relatives, friends and neighbours paid their respects to a well loved man. His burial took place in his native village of Dungarvin in Co Kilkenny after Requiem Mass in the local church.
A large number of his friends and former team mates and neighbours from Wicklow, led by Jackie Napier were in attendance.
The Wicklow County Board were represented by County Chairman Martin Coleman and former chairmen, Liam O'Loughlin and Peter Keogh.
He was a great friend of the late Billy Lawless and the Lawless family were represented by Billy's two children, Shay and Kerry .
Our sympathy to his bereaved wife, Anastasia, daughters, Ann, and sons, Andrew, Dermot and Wayne, brothers Andy, Lar and Patsy and extended family.
Christy Byrne R.I.P.
Enniskerry was in morning following the death of Christy Byrne on Tuesday of last week. Christy was a good footballer and a leader on the field of play.
He was the captain of the Enniskerry team that won the Wicklow Intermediate football league in 1972, beating neighbours St. Kevins' of Bray in the final, but only after a replay.
His remains were brought from Colliers Funeral Home, Bray for mass in Enniskerry Church on Friday morning followed by cremation.
Our Sympathy to his Wife Pauleen, Daughter Sinade and extended Family.
May he rest in peace.