Saturday 14 December 2019

Fly-on-the-wall tales of life with Micko

Kerry legend Mick O'Dwyer. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Kerry legend Mick O'Dwyer. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE Sportsdesk

Work commitments at the Kilkenny-Dublin game prevented me from attending Mick O'Dwyer's 80th birthday celebrations in Waterville last Saturday so I'm looking forward to meeting him in the Arklow Bay Hotel this Friday night for the launch of a book which re-visits a special year for Wicklow.

A Year in Wicklow with Micko is a fly-on-the wall account of the 2009 season, possibly the most exciting in the county's history.

Ciarán Byrne, Dublin-born but now teaching in Arklow, was given exclusive access to the camp for the entire year and his book recounts what it was like to be inside the dressing-room with O'Dwyer in a season when they reached Round 4 of the qualifiers.

The great adventure took them past Fermanagh,Cavan and Down on successive Saturdays in Aughrim, and while the run ended against Kildare - ironically, the team they had beaten under Micko in 2008 to record Wicklow's first championship win Croke Park - it's still a treasured memory in Wicklow.

Byrne, who is now Wicklow's kit man, recalls how amid all the nervous tension in the dressing-room after the squad's arrival for the clash with Down, Micko was "reclining on the bench in his usual corner with the match programme resting on his chest".

"It evokes a distant memory of my Leaving Cert classes in Irish poetry when we learned that the ancient poets of Ireland would recline with a stone on their chests to gather inspiration."

The book is edited and published by Bray-based author and journalist PJ Cunningham, a current Wicklow selector, with Johnny Magee (manager), Darren Magee and Ray Cosgrove.

Wicklow will play Carlow in a Round 1 SFC Qualifier at Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday.

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