Wednesday 22 November 2017

Glynn a man for all seasons

Wicklow star eager to crown 'hectic' yearwith ninth county SFC title

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

LEIGHTON GLYNN has scarcely had time to draw breath.

There was just enough time to celebrate a successful International Rules series before the Wicklow star and Cork's Aidan Walsh flew home to report for club duty, two days before the rest of their Ireland team-mates.

It was a similar rush job before his departure for Australia, which was delayed to allow him line out for Rathnew in their semi-final replay win over St Patrick's. Somewhere along the way, he squeezed in his sixth county senior hurling title with Glenealy as well as training for the International Rules, which began "pretty much as soon as Wicklow went out of the championship".

He also managed a stint with the inter-county hurlers in a packed 2011.

And he shows no signs of slowing down. Remarkably, an operation to fix a Gilmore's groin problem has been the extent of his injury troubles in recent years. And on Sunday, he'll barely have recovered from jet lag when he goes in search of his ninth Wicklow SFC medal against combination side St Mary's.

"It's been hectic alright," Glynn said. "But it has all been games as opposed to training and that's where you are more likely to pick up injuries. The hard training and slogging takes its toll on the body but when there is match after match it's easier to keep going.

"And as well as that, the International Rules was a very rewarding experience so it hasn't been too bad. And there might be a break around the New Year."

As one of its finest exponents, it's unsurprising that Glynn wants to see the International series continue and he points out that while attendances in Australia were disappointing, there were mitigating circumstances.

"People have been keen to knock the series but it is our only chance as GAA players to represent our country and all the lads would say that. Just look at the management team we had. They took it very seriously -- we all did.

"We put serious work into it because we had to when you are going in against professionals. Maybe because we won the first Test so easily, it took a bit of the sting out of it, plus the rugby World Cup was just over but there's definitely still an appetite for it.

"It's only last year we had around 100,000 people at the two games at home and, from talking to the likes of the Cork players and Kieran Donaghy who have All-Ireland medals, they say it's huge for them to play and win for Ireland."

January will herald the start of Harry Murphy's reign as Wicklow manager but Sunday sees his final game in Wicklow club football after a remarkable era for Rathnew that saw them win seven titles under his guidance, as well as a Leinster club title in 2001, since the turn of the century.

"I'm well used to Harry at this stage. He'll have new ideas and a different way of doing things but I think the Wicklow dressing-room is a much different place than what it was before Micko (O'Dwyer) came along.

"The attitude is different now. It used to be that you'd be thinking you didn't have a chance but that has changed. We have obviously made progress -- maybe not as much as we would have liked to in the league but we had some great days in the championship with Micko. That gives you confidence and that can only be a good thing."

The Garden County's connection with the O'Dwyer name remains, however, with St Mary's managed by the Waterville maestro's son and former Kildare footballer Karl.

Despite unremarkable intermediate campaigns as individual clubs, the first year of the Coolkenno-Shilleagh amalgamation has been an unqualified success. Over the course of a remarkable run, they have taken out some of the county's heavy hitters and in the process became the first combination side to reach the county final since the now defunct East District in 1993.

feat

"Karl has done a great job. Bringing two clubs together to make a senior team is no mean feat. They tried this before in Wicklow years back and they are making a good job of it. It might catch on and other clubs might try it but it's hard to say at this point. It's working for St Mary's this year and it seems to work well in Kerry so it is possible."

Glynn's schedule is set to remain busy even though Glenealy's Leinster intermediate championship campaign was ended by Kildare champions Celbridge while the 29-year-old was Down Under. Regardless of Sunday's result, the rule that precludes combination sides from progressing to provincial championship means that, on Sunday week, Rathnew will face the winners of this weekend's clash between Louth side St Patrick's and Laois champions Portlaoise.

However, Glynn wouldn't entertain thoughts of repeating the heroics of 2001 when the Wicklow men, and an 18-year-old Glynn, landed the Leinster title for the first time in the club's history.

"We haven't even looked that far ahead, we're just concentrating on Sunday and after that we'll look to the next game and see where it takes us," he said. "It was only back in 2005 that we played Shilleagh in a county final and they beat Baltinglass in the semi-final so they have experience. We certainly won't be taking them for granted."

Irish Independent

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