Special day for Harrington who also played in the same final against the same club 15 years ago
Sunday’s victory over St Peter’s in the Charlie Bishop Cup final was a very special one for Wicklow Rovers captain Brian Harrington given that he also played in the final between the same two teams 15 years ago, operating out of the same position and enjoying the same result when the final whistles sounded.
However, what made last Sunday’s win even more dramatic for the former UCD player was the fact that he picked up a red card in the first half and had to watch on as his colleagues held off the might of the Premier league champions to claim a sweet victory made possible by a Riain Sweetman Burke strike late on.
“It was quite a dramatic day,” said Brian. “15 years ago, we won the Charlie Bishop Cup against the same opposition, who were also the league champions that year, St Peter’s Boys of Bray. We emulated that again on Sunday. Now, I’ve 15 more years under the belt but I played in both games, and in the same position.
“It was quite a dramatic day in that I actually got a red card early in the game. Some say it was harsh. It was my first foul. Look, these things happen, but it was devastating.
“The lads just pulled it out of the bag. They were very determined. They’re a young side, all 20, 21 and 22. I kind of bring up the average age by quite an amount. But they dug deep. It gave them a bit of extra bite, that they were going to dig deep for me as well as everyone else.
“It just drove them on. We missed a penalty after that (the sending off) to go one up. We were totally on the front foot the whole time. They’re an experienced side but they just couldn’t live with the pace of us and our determination to see it over the line.
“It was a great day for the club, and for me personally, because it would have been devastating for me if we hadn’t won it. I would have had many sleepless nights thinking about it,” he added.
Brian recalls the 2007 final where Wicklow Rovers went up against a formidable St Peter’s side which boasted the likes of the Kelly brothers, Jeffrey and Justin. Rovers packed a bit of punch themselves with recognisable names such as Darragh O’Sullivan, Shane Murley, Barry Fitzgerald, Anthony Doran (captain), Fergal Dwyer, Davy Rowan, Maurice Dunne, Aidan Small and BA Franey with Mattie Byrne in the goal.
That game was decided after a penalty shoot-out after extra-time had ended with the teams tied at 1-1.
15 years on and times have changed dramatically in terms of personnel. Brian, then a sprightly 24-year-old, would have been one of the younger players whereas on Sunday he was very much the more mature of the soldiers.
Brian sees a great future for this young side that has been guided by the steady and experienced had of Boodhran Rampersaud.
“The manager, Boodhan Rampersaud, has brought this team up from youths. This is their third year in men’s football. If he holds them together, they’ll go from strength to strength. I mightn’t be there must longer, but I’ll go as long as I can,” he said.
Brian began his playing career in Bray Wanderers at a young age before enjoying some quality years with UCD and also featuring strongly on Wicklow Rovers’ Leinster Senior League team when he returned to his roots.
“I captained UCD to inter-varsity victories. I played a lot of up in UCD, that’s where I did most of my damage in my younger days. I kind of came back to Wicklow because I have family and I’m settled here and it’s nice to play locally and help out the club,” he said.
Brian says he’s “delighted” and “proud” after the big win and the fact that his bride-to-be Sharon and his two daughters were cheering him on in Arklow made it even sweeter.
“Delighted. Very proud of our young team. Delighted to be able to captain them. “I’m getting married to Sharon Devaney in September, and herself and my two children, Avianna (4) and Lucy (2), were there as well which put the icing on the cake as well,” he added.
And finally, Brian had a word about the player of the match, Dean Noble.
“He’s a fabulous player. He’s showing composure and he’s getting experience, he’s learning his trade as he goes,” he said.