Friday 24 November 2017


Gary Kelly may have cleaned up at the Tommy Earls awards this season as a manager but he was never likely to do that as a player, mainly because he was 'never any use'.

Gary Kelly may have cleaned up at the Tommy Earls awards this season as a manager but he was never likely to do that as a player, mainly because he was 'never any use'.

The Newtown man scooped the Premier Division Manager of the Year and Overall Manager of the Year awards alongside joint gaffer Rory Hackett and also took home the Person of the Year award for his Trojan work for the Magpies.

But now he is leaving the hotseat at the Matt Kelly Memorial Grounds to spend more time with eight year old son Cian, who has autism. He is going out in the right fashion though having added a Premier Division winners medal and a Wicklow Cup winners medal to his trophy cabinet in his last season, a season that he describes as great.

'When you consider that we lost seven or eight players at the start of the season and that we had five U-21 players bedding in it was very, very good. We were unbeaten all season on the field of play. The only times we lost was in penalty shoot-outs; against Rathnew in the Charlie Bishop Cup and against Arklow Town in the Jim McLaughlin (Premier Trophy) final.

'We scored in every single game so we have to be very happy. We had only won the league once in our history so we sat down at the start of the season and decided to go for the league this season and let the cups look after themselves. A cup can be gone on a bad decision from a referee whereas in the league you can make up for a bad referee decision over the course of the season'.

During his time as manager, Kelly entered 16 competitions and won more than half of them. Five times they had to settle for a runners-up spot and just twice out of those 16 occasions did the Magpies fail to finish in the top two. That overwhelming success sees three Overall Manager of the Year awards and two Premier Division Manager of the Year awards in his trophy cabinet

And Kelly and Hackett did indeed prove to be the best in the league and also claimed the Wicklow Cup along the way. Their management style saw them share responsibilities straight down the middle but there wasn't a single falling out all term.

There were some hard decisions for them to make though. A few first-teamers decided at the start of the season that they wanted a guarantee spot in the starting XI but the management duo stuck to their guns and kissed goodbye to a few lads.

Kelly has been involved in managing the Magpies for seven years now but his managerial boots have now been hung up. His playing career wasn't quite as glamorous as his managerial one. He played for the second team if they were stuck but he did enjoy one season with the first team - the season that they were relegated!

Throughout his time on the sidelines he has witnessed many things and one thing he remembers with fondness involves a red-faced striker. During a match in Brittas Park, this particular forward missed a sitter and was promptly hooked by his manager. Enraged by this decision, the non-driver stormed off, throwing his jersey at his boss before marching off in the direction of nearby pub MacDaniel's. Unfortunately for the angry walker the match ended soon afterwards and all his team-mates were already sitting in the pub with drinks in their hands by the time he had arrived!

Kelly won't be walking away from the club though and will now take up the role of treasurer. Today is another busy day for Kelly and the club with the FAI coming to town. The occasion will be marked by the presentation of a defibrillator to the club. Newtown native Clive Clarke was meant to be handing over the lifesaving device to the club but his football agent duties mean he is in America at the moment so either John Delaney or Clive's father Patsy, president of the club, will step in.

The modest gentleman is quick to divert praise and brushes off the Person of the Year award, crediting all the other people at the club who he says have worked extremely hard for the cause too. One thing is for sure, every club needs a Gary Kelly.

Wicklow People

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