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An open and exciting race for Miley Cup begins this weekend in Wicklow

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Representatives from the clubs involved in the Boom & Platform Hire Senior Football Championship along with Wicklow GAA Chairman Martin Fitzgerald in Aughrim recently.

Representatives from the clubs involved in the Boom & Platform Hire Senior Football Championship along with Wicklow GAA Chairman Martin Fitzgerald in Aughrim recently.

Representatives from the clubs involved in the Boom & Platform Hire Senior Football Championship along with Wicklow GAA Chairman Martin Fitzgerald in Aughrim recently.

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This weekend will see the start of the 2022 Boom & Platform Hire Wicklow Senior Football Championship where plenty of sides will fancy their chances.

Twelve teams will go to the starting post and, barring a replay, one will lift the Miley cup on Sunday, October 9.

Newtown and Eire Óg are non-runners having made the drop to Intermediate for 2022 with An Tóchar returning to Senior ranks after an eight-year absence. While many will expect the winner to come from the short-priced teams at the top of the list there is plenty of quality in the chasing pack and some each way value in plenty of the contenders.

BLESSINGTON

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Last year’s champions Blessington are a 9/2 chance. Generous odds for the holders.

Can they retain their title so triumphantly lifted last November in a photo finish?

Jonathan Daniels had the perfect blend of youth and experience in 2021 but has had a fractured build up thus far.

They will be glad of the late start as injuries to key players may have cleared and some of those travelling returned home before they enter in round two.

They won’t relinquish their first title since 1983 too easily and if they can reproduce the form shown in the first half against Rathnew in the semi-final they will have few peers.

Recent record: Current holders

Captain: Brian Bohan

St Patrick’s

Can St. Patrick’s who were crowned outright league champions a few weeks back add to their haul of 14 titles? Current ante post favourites at 3/1, they are never far away.

New manager Robbie Leahy from Kilmacud Crokes inherited a decent squad with plenty of experience from Casey O’Brien. Back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019 showed their quality.

Will be disappointed with how they bowed out in 2020 and 2021 and that hurt could well drive them on to justify the favourites tag in 2022.

Paudge McWalter is playing as well as ever and Tommy Kelly has rediscovered his best form. They can also call on Dean Healy, Niall Donnelly, Shane Doyle, Matthew Traynor and Paddy O’Keane from the county set up. Will enter the championship in round two.

Recent record: 2019 winners.

Captain: Tommy Kelly

Baltinglass

Baltinglass, who have appeared in an amazing 33 finals (winning 23) since their first win in 1958, will strive to go one better than that first Sunday in November, 2021. You will always be guaranteed a run for your money with Kevin O’Brien’s men now available at 10/3.

They have won plenty at underage of late including last year’s under-19 championship and were also in the Junior ‘A’ final, so the conveyor belt shows no sign of slowing down.

Only Mark Jackson was away on county duty but they did have a few injuries during the league so may be more settled than many. Billy Cullen, John McGrath, Kevin Murphy and Jason Kennedy still pull the strings that matter. Tradition dictates in Baltinglass, and talent generally delivers.

Recent record: 2022 winners

Captain: Mark Jackson

AGB

Many people feel that AGB are in prime position to go one better than they did in 2019. Available at 9/2 they will still be wondering how they lost out to Blessington from such a strong position in last year’s quarter-final. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and sometimes you learn more from days like that than you do in victory.

They had some satisfactory results in the league whilst not having their strongest hand available. Will need Andy Maher and Darragh Fitzgerald at full fitness to win the really big contests.

A talented crop of players that have come through their brilliant underage set up and 2022 would seem like as good a time as any to deliver on their promise.

Recent record: losing finalists 2019.

Captain: Karl Kirwan

RATHNEW

Rathnew and the Miley cup have been apart now since 2017. It’s the longest gap in their honours list since the breakthrough comeback year in 1996 when they set off on their most successful ever period.

With 34 titles to their credit, it goes without saying they won’t ever be far away. Many will see the 13/2 as enticing and great each way value.

Alan Clarke has been going through a rebuilding phase and time will tell how close they are to bringing the glory days back to the village. Nicky Mernagh and James Stafford are still doing the business but plenty of young talent has been integrated during the league.

The question will be is the depth and talent in their squad of the same quality that dragged them through so many times just now? Leave them in the race at your peril.

Recent record: losing semi-finalists in 2021.

Captain: Ross O’Brien

BRAY EMMETS

Bray Emmets have been going about their business quietly in 2022. Promotion was secured back to Division 1 for 2023. Under new manager Shane Smith they could ruffle quite a few feathers. Dual players can be a concern, but their hurlers seem so far ahead of the chasing pack that they could give football their full attention without much interference.

Have had some decent results on and off in the past few years but they know themselves one final appearance in 2003 is a stat that desperately needs improving. Jack Tracey and Mark Cullen looked like players of real promise for the under 20 team and Sam Kearney is a quality full back. Is 14/1 way too kind?

Recent record: last in semi-final in 2016.

Captain: Shane Lohan

AVONDALE

Avondale have Kerry man Brain Breen and Wexford’s Lloyd Colfer directing operations in 2022. They had a poor league but were definitely using it as a means for improvement. Available also at odds of 14/1 they could represent the best value out there.

A club that has produced so much talent over the years, they must wonder how they have not yet delivered a title. Made the last four on a couple of occasions in the past few years and plenty of times during the 1980s.

Tactically they know they let St Pats off the hook in their loss in 2022. They have two of the top forwards in the county in their ranks in Conor Byrne and Oisin McGraynor and Zach Cullen has matured to a fine player.

Recent record: Regular last four appearances need to be improved on.

Captain: Conor Byrne

TINAHELY

Tinahely have the raw materials that many are envious of. Losing finalists in 2020 to Baltinglass they were disappointed with their 2021 showing.

Losses to Blessington and Dunlavin seeing them bow out early doors. Available at a generous 25/1 they will tempt a few to take a punt on them.

Mick Murray has taken the reins and won’t have been overly happy with the league results although they did improve near the end.

The loss of one of the top forwards in the county in Eoin Darcy to a J1 for the summer is massive and a lengthening injury list won’t help either.

They will have to deliver on their potential soon but will get a severe test from Donard-The Glen in their opener.

Recent record: losing finalists in 2020.

Captain: Rory Stokes

DONARD-THE GLEN

Donard-The Glen had some outstanding results in last year’s championship.

Wins over Kiltegan and Avondale and a narrow loss to Baltinglass in the quarter-final will give them plenty of confidence.

For their first year back in the Senior grade they would have been delighted with their showing but will want to keep improving.

Mickey Daly is still at the helm and has the benefit of an influx of double minor championship winning players to boost his squad depth for 2022 but will miss their transferred talisman, Alan Daly. Play a very structured game and will cause plenty of problems for teams along the way.

Recent record: 2021 quarter-finalists

Captain: Conor Healy

AN TÓCHAR

An Tóchar are the team everyone is looking at for a dark horse and at 25/1 they will attract support. Have had a fine couple of years culminating in the intermediate win last year over Hollywood.

They had plenty of their players involved with the Wicklow under-20 squad during the league but still only suffered one loss in the campaign. They put that right in the league final against Kilmac with a clinical display, but Liam Cullen will have to be worried about the measure of challenges they have faced. The established teams in Senior will provide stern tests for them and how they react to a setback or two will be interesting. Very easy on the eye.

Recent record: winners in 1995. Last in a semi-final in 2002.

Captain: Gavin Kenny.

DUNLAVIN

Dunlavin took many by surprise last year. They lost narrowly to eventual champions Blessington and defeated Tinahely. They really should have taken the Rathnew scalp in the quarter-final and would have but for some fine goalkeeping and missed chances.

Stephen Maxwell has a talented squad available to him which will be further bolstered by the acquisition of Aaron Kennedy from St Laurence’s and the return to full fitness of Eoin Murtagh.

Overpriced at 33/1, they have a tough opener against AGB but are a team that thrive on confidence and could be in for another good run up the rails. Definitely a team that many won’t want to face.

Recent record: Last won in 1981 and lost a final in 1997.

Captain: Seanie Phelan.

KILTEGAN

Kiltegan are ranked as 40/1 outsiders but only a fool would write them off.

They will still be wondering how they lost to Baltinglass in 2021 given the position they had worked themselves into.

Rory Finn is back and will be a massive plus for them around the middle with Podge O’Toole. Seanie Furlong will still be on the edge of the square too so there will be no respite for defenders.

Victor Doyle has taken the reins and has assembled a strong management team around him. Have been the one club who have consistently caused the most headaches for the traditional strongholds over the years.

Recent record: Winners in 2008 but haven’t been to last four since 2009.

Captain: Rory Finn and Seanie Furlong are joint captains.


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