Tomorrow sees Wicklow take on Fermanagh in the Division 4 final in Croke Park, a fixture that will barely register on the radars of the GAA public and media. Probably not even beyond the hardcore GAA fans in the Garden County.
I cannot claim to be the biggest GAA fan however I like to keep an eye on the results; I dare not say progress of, my home county – Wicklow.
To reach the Division 4 final after decades in the wilderness of Division 4 football to me was a huge deal.
I remember the excitement and euphoria around Mick O’Dwyer’s appointment as manager of the Wicklow team back in 2006. Everywhere I went people were talking, with some individuals stating that there was aLeinstertitle in this Wicklow side!
Indeed in 2008 Micko worked his magic as Wicklow managed their first ever win inCrokePark(I still shake my head in disbelief when I say that) over Kildare. A day that was made all the sweeter as I sat beside three Kildare men who looked on in complete disbelief. It was as if Micko himself was taking off across Croker with their girlfriends over his shoulder.
The following years brought memorable wins and runs in the Championships.
As enjoyable as all this was I could never get my head around why these performances couldn’t extend to League campaigns. It is widely known that O’Dwyer pays little attention to the league given the success he has achieved at Championship level with stronger teams. So it was left to Arthur French and Kevin O’Brien to manage the team during the autumn schedule.
To me it felt like a wasted opportunity. If he was truly trying to build something and leave a memorable legacy promotion to and securing a Division Three place should have been part of his contract.
There are some great players in this Wicklow side including Leighton Glynn, Tony Hannon and James Stafford and it seems a real shame they should spend their entire careers playing at the lower echelons of Gaelic football.
I am sure GAA officials in the county were too busy patting themselves on the back and looking forward to the odd Championship win to worry about such things.
It was always going to be massively interesting to see how his successor, Rathnew man Harry Murphy, would get on. Would all the belief and work ethic that Micko instilled disappear and be replaced by the in-fighting and politics that have been part of Wicklow football in the past?
Clearly not, as Harry’s men have secured promotion and hopefully come Saturday night will have added only the second piece of national silverware to what used to be the smallest trophy cabinet in the country. Fermanagh, Wicklow’s opposition on Saturday now hold that dubious distinction.
After I wrote this it was brought to my attention that our very own Marcus Ó Buachalla will be commentating on the match for TG4 which will have live coverage from 4.30pm