“I think we can match them playing football”
He’s young, he’s bright, he’s capable and he’s Arklow Town to the core so leading out his colleagues in Rathnew on Sunday afternoon will be a tremendously proud moment for team captain Ciarán Burke who believes that this special group of committed footballers has what it takes to go all the way.
“I’m playing here since I was about seven, 2001,” explained Ciarán when asked about his backround in the club. “I started playing out in Brittas Bay with Brian Byrne and then came in and played all the way up until senior level. I came up though that academy when we had a link with Sheffield.
“I took a year out then, when I was about 19 or 20 and in college. Came back in to play Leinster League when Niall Byrne was manager. Then I was living in Dublin so a few years out and back in just before the Covid lockdown. And here ever since.
“We formed just before Covid. Then we had a lockdown, then we had everybody out. Then another lockdown. Then everybody out again. This crew has been on the go about two years, but we’ve only had one season with all the trials and tribulations.
“It’s a good crew. A lot of them I’d know from the academy days. Some of them are younger than me. They’ve all came up through the club,” he added.
Key to the success of this group so far in the competition has been the bond created by the good run and the relatively superior structure of the Wicklow Cup compared to the Premier Division.
“(The cup run) has bonded everyone together. We seen initially when the bond wasn’t that good, lads coming in and out, players coming up, playing for a few months and then leave. But there’s a core group there now who all know each other. And then you get lads who want to play for the club. They hear that there’s a team here, a good crowd, no messing around, come up and play football and enjoy it,” said Ciarán.
“And that’s what happened. There have been plenty of good footballers in Arklow over the years, but they get fed up and leave or get fed up with soccer or have other interests but to be fair to Tony and Sean, they really bonded things together. And they’ve stuck at it, stuck at it when there’s been six lads here.
“They’ve good football knowledge, trainings are enjoyable, very interesting. They can get lads out, they know who to give a bollicking, they know who needs an arm around them.
“The cup run has been good because it has given us defined objectives and defined targets. We had Aughrim and then we had a break of about six weeks before the next game with Arklow United. And in that time, in all seriousness, the League wasn’t that consistent with fixtures.
“The League don’t tell you for the next six weeks, like the GAA, this is what you’re at. You can’t plan anything. But that’s what we’ve found, where we’ve been strongest, is that lads have something to focus on.
“Even if they’re not around for league games, they’ll be around for cup games. And what’s happened then is when we get the squad together, we’re a good squad.
“And you probably see the opposite of that in the league, when lads don’t have a game for three weeks, they lose interest. That’s what we’ve noticed. Lads have committed. It has given us all something to work for,” he added.
And what does he expect from Avonmore?
“Footballers. Footballers. That’s the big thing. They like to play football. I think we can match them physically; I think we can match then playing football and if we can keep our heads, that’s the big thing,” he added.