Tuesday 23 April 2019

Sad day for Wicklow hurling as Rocks drop

THE sad news on the home front this week was the decision of the management of the Arklow Rock Parnels Club to pull their team out of Senior hurling, effective immediately.

That leaves no Senior hurling in one of our biggest towns which has to be viewed as a setback for the game in the county.

However, the news should not have come as a big surprise. It has been evident for some time that the club, at Senior level was on the slide and was only kept afloat by the hard work of a few officials and the decision of a number of the older players to extend their playing careers well beyond the sell by date.

Straight away it must be said that the decision taken this week was the correct one. The Rocks were doing no services to themselves or to the county by continuing as they were.

County planners may be disappointed as it reduces the number of Senior clubs in the championship from the eight we had just reached and could make the championship that bit harder to organise.

Taking a different view of the development, a lot of people, in particular those closest to the game, will be genuinely sorry to see to see what was once a great club in trouble.

For over 45 years the Rocks were an integral part of the hurling structures in Wicklow.

They first came together in the mid to late 1960s; won their first championship in the Junior grade in 1965 and in no time at all they were strong challengers in the top grade.

The big breakthrough came in 1970 when they beat then kingpins of the game in the final.

That was the start of a great three-in-a-row run that established them as a real power in the game.

A great rivalry developed between them and another new club from the Wexford border Carnew and between then they backboned Wicklow county teams during their most successful years.

The Rocks in their glory years produced many great hurlers and leaders on and off the playing fields.

There was the late, lamented Paddy Reilly who captained one Wicklow team to All-Ireland success. There was Mick O'Brien, manager, trainer and top class player.

Then there was the great families - The aforemention Rielly's, 'Bunny' - Bill, Jack Terry and many more. The Byrnes of Clonpadden, a team on their own and all with leadership qualities. Seamus Barnes and his son Martin; John Kelly. The Curran family, Matt and Danny and daughter, Esther, a girl that does so much work with so many clubs.

Present day club and county leader, Tom Byrne and his family, the Keoghs, the Mellons, the Gilberts, and many more.

The Rocks won the last ot their six Senior hurling Championships when they beat Kilcoole in the final of 1985 and contested their last Senior final in 1987.

The famous green and white jersey will be missed on the Senior front but we are sure that it will not be long before Arklow Rock Parnells are back in the top grade.

Bray People