Lone All Star O'Brien turned down offers to remain loyal to Wicklow
THERE are few counties where a poll to decide a No 1 would come close to producing a unanimous result , but Wicklow are definitely in that category.
Kevin O’Brien ticks all the boxes, thanks to a lengthy career where in addition to striving so hard to raise Wicklow’s stock, he also won Leinster and International Rules recognition with Ireland. Plus, of course, he remains Wicklow’s only All Star recipient, having being chosen at full-forward in 1990.
O’Brien played a major part his club’s All-Ireland success when Baltinglass won the title in 1989 and captained Wicklow to the All-Ireland ‘B’ title in 1992.
“When I hoisted the cup over my head, one of the handles fell off. Somehow you couldn’t see it happening with the Sam Maguire Cup,” he recalled.
Of course, he was never going to get a chance of ‘real’ All-Ireland glory with Wicklow, a prize that might have been available if he chose to accept invitations to move away from the Garden county.
He was offered jobs in both Dublin and Kildare at various stages, with a view to getting him on board with their county panels, but he never really considered them.
“My loyalty to Baltinglass and Wicklow was total. That’s the way I’m made and nothing could ever change me,” he said.
Interestingly, John O’Leary selected O’Brien on a team of his generation, squeezing out Pat Spillane at left
half-forward in a choice that raised eyebrows.
“O’Brien would have been a resounding success with the great Kerry team of the 1970s and 1980s – how good would Spillane have been with Wicklow?” wrote O’Leary in his autobiography.
Pat O’Byrne gets the No 2 slot in the Wicklow rankings, a tribute to his consistency over many years. O’Brien, Pat O’Byrne and indeed so many others on the list would have slotted comfortably into top teams anywhere but, unfortunately for them, they never had quite enough support to make a major breakthrough in Wicklow.
1. Kevin O’Brien, 2. Pat O’Byrne, 3. Hugh Kenny, 4. Leighton Glynn, 5. Moses Coffey, 6. Pat O’Toole, 7. Séamus Morris, 8. Fergus Daly, 9. Tommy Gill, 10. Tommy Murphy, 11. Ciarán Hyland, 12. Mick Murtagh, 13. Pat Baker, 14. James Stafford, 15. Trevor Doyle, 16. Stephen Kelly, 17. Robert McHugh, 18. Con Murphy, 19. Seánie Furlong, 20. Tony Hannon
See Tuesday's Irish Independent and Independent.ie to find out who has made the grade for each team in Munster and have your say on each county's poll below
Click on your county below:
Carlow football, Carlow hurling, Dublin football, Dublin hurling, Kildare football, Kilkenny hurling, Laois football, Laois hurling, Louth football, Longford football, Meath football, Offaly football, Offaly hurling, Westmeath football, Westmeath hurling, Wexford football, Wexford hurling, Wicklow football