The Wicklow County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) (Irish: Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, Coiste Chontae Cill Mhantáin) or Wicklow GAA is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in County Wicklow. The county board is also responsible for the Wicklow county teams.

Wicklow GAA
Wicklow GAA crest.jpg
Irish:Cill Mhantáin
Nickname(s):The Garden County
Province:Leinster
Dominant sport:Gaelic football
Ground(s):Aughrim County Ground
County colours:Royal blue, gold and white
   
County teams
NFL:Division 3
NHL:Division 2A
Football Championship:Sam Maguire Cup
Hurling Championship:Christy Ring Cup
Ladies' Gaelic football:Brendan Martin Cup
Camogie:Máire Ní Chinnéide Cup

The county football team plays in the Leinster Senior Football Championship. Wicklow has had very little success at senior level, being the only football team in the province and one of two in Ireland to have never won a senior title in either code, the other being Fermanagh.

The county hurling team competes in the Christy Ring Cup, the second tier of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. The county reached the final in both the 2011 and 2012 cups, losing to Kerry and London respectively.

GovernanceEdit

Christopher Byrne served as chairman of the Wicklow County Board between 1931 and 1954.[1]

FootballEdit

ClubsEdit

Wicklow's biggest achievement remains the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship won by the Baltinglass club in 1990.

Valleymount's pitch is located astride the Poulaphouca and amid water in the west of the county.[2]

County teamEdit

Wicklow are one of two counties never to have won a senior provincial championship (the other is Fermanagh), but Bray Emmets, the leading side of the early 1900s, won Leinster and All-Ireland honours when they were playing in the Dublin Championship. Wicklow were twice proclaimed Leinster champions for short periods. Bray were representing Wicklow in 1889, and when they beat Newtown Blues of Drogheda by 1-7 to 1-4 they claimed that they had won the "final of Leinster" because Queens County or Kilkenny had not shown up for a final. But four days later the result was quashed. In 1897 they became Leinster champions for a week. A downpour caused Dublin to presume the Leinster final would not be played, Dublin went home, the referee awarded a walk-over to Wicklow. But the following meeting of the Central Council ordered the match to be replayed and Wicklow lost by 1-9 to 0-3.

A League semi-final in frostbound 1947 came about in bizarre fashion: Wicklow were picked to represent an unfinished group in which some of the teams had not yet played. In 1954 Wicklow were leading Meath by two points after sixty minutes of play but Meath were saved by the clock. Nine minutes of lost time had elapsed before Meath scored the winning point! After surviving the "long count" Meath went on to win the All-Ireland, and Wicklow lost their best player of the decade, John Timmons, to Dublin.

In 1986 they pulled off a huge upset beating newly crowned League champions Laois in the Leinster Quarter-final on a scorching hot June day in Aughrim by 2-10 to 1-9, Wicklow legend Kevin O'Brien scored 2-3 in that game. However, they were no match for Meath, who knocked them out in the Leinster semi-final.

A near thing against Meath, just off their four-match with Dublin in 1991 (Wicklow drew 0-12 to 1-9 and lost the replay by three points) heralded a great start to the 1990s. But Wicklow's only championship wins since were against Longford and Westmeath, and a 1996 League quarter-final appearance against Donegal their nearest to a breakthrough. Lying in wait for complacent opponents, particularly in Aughrim, for unsuspecting opposition has been the Wicklow trademark since. Exploits included a 1986 win over newly crowned League champions Laois at Aughrim, and a 1981 defeat by just two points against Dublin in the Leinster quarter-final, after a miracle save in the last minute by Dublin's goalkeeper John O'Leary.

In October 2006, legendary former Kerry manager and player Mick O'Dwyer took over as Wicklow manager. During his tenure Wicklow's championship results improved, while Wicklow had shown promise in 2004 and 2005, they suffered two heavy defeats in the 2006 championship. In 2007 under Mick O'Dwyer they played Louth in the first round of the Leinster Championship, taking Louth to two replays before finally being beaten; however, later that year, they went on to win the Tommy Murphy Cup, defeating Antrim in dramatic fashion with a late Tommy Gill goal in extra-time, securing the Wicklow senior footballers a second ever national trophy, and first ever win in Croke Park. As Wicklow were a Division 4 team they were not permitted to enter the 2007 backdoor. Going into the 2008 championship, Wicklow had not won a championship game since beating London on 8 June 2002 and had not won a Leinster Championship 1st round proper game since beating Longford by 1 point in 1996 (they won a Leinster group game in 2000, but this was the only year under that format). They faced a heavily fancied Kildare in the 1st round and completed arguably their greatest ever championship win beating Kildare 0-13 to 0-9, this was also their first ever championship win in Croke Park, they went on to lose narrowly to Laois in the Quarter-Final. Again as they were a Division 4 team they were not permitted to enter the qualifiers, so they went on to try and defend the Tommy Murphy Cup but ultimately lost to Antrim in the final. The 2009 Championship was one of the most memorable in Wicklow's history, they won their Leinster 1st-round game against Longford by 2-12 to 1-13 before narrowly losing to Westmeath in the next round by 0-16 to 1-10. Division 4 teams were allowed to enter the Qualifiers again by 2009 and so Wicklow began their campaign by beating Fermanagh 0-17 to 1-11 in the 1st round, they then comfortably beat Cavan by 1-12 to 0-8 in the 2nd round, they dramatically beat Down by 1-15 to 0-17 thanks to a late 45' that was scored by Tony Hannon before their famous run finally came to an end when Kildare beat them by 1-16 to 2-9 in the last round of the Qualifiers. In 2010, Wicklow beat Carlow in the 1st round of the Leinster championship but again narrowly lost out in the Quarter-final, this time to Westmeath by a single point, 0-15 to 1-11 but unfortunately they were unable to repeat their historic 2009 Qualifier run losing out to Cavan in the 1st round, agonisingly by a single point again, 0-15 to 2-8. Wicklow's 2011 Leinster campaign started poorly with a 0-12 to 0-5 1st round defeat by Kildare; however, they bounced back well, defeating Sligo by 1-18 to 0-16 in the 1st round of the Qualifiers, in the 2nd round they drew with Armagh 0-19 to 2-13 before losing the replay at home by 2-9 to 0-10. This brought an end to Mick O'Dwyer's five years as manager of the Wicklow footballers.

HurlingEdit

ClubsEdit

The 2014 Wicklow Senior Hurling Championship consists of eight clubs: Carnew Emmets, Glenealy (2013 Champions), Kiltegan, St Patrick's Wicklow Town, Éire Og Greystones, Avondale, Kilcoole and Bray Emmets (2013 finalists).

County teamEdit

Wicklow won the All-Ireland Junior Hurling Championship in 1967 and 1971 and the Kehoe Cup on seven occasions: in 1989, 1991, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003.

SchoolsEdit

There is a very strong emphasis on Gaelic games in schools in Wicklow, both in primary and secondary schools. In almost all cases coaching is done on a voluntary basis by teachers who may have links to local GAA clubs.[citation needed]

The county's vocational schools team has won 12 Leinster and 3 All-Ireland Championships, the last coming in 2006.[citation needed]

Garden County AcademyEdit

The Garden County Academy is Wicklow GAA's juvenile development squad system for football and hurling, with squads from under-13 to minor level.[3]

The academy in its current format was born in 2014 after a group of concerned GAA members from around the county came together to formulate a plan to improve underage football structures in the county.[4] The key motivation for the group was that the existing games development structure operated by Wicklow County Board was not producing players able to compete with other Leinster counties,[5] noting that Wicklow remains the only county not to have won a senior Leinster championship in either football or hurling, despite having one of the largest populations in the province. One of the stated aims of the group was to win a Leinster Minor Football Championship within ten years.

An independent group initially consisting of Niall O'Brien (Kiltegan), Joe O'Brien (Kiltegan) and Gerry Grehan (Laragh) presented the case for a major overhaul of the academy to Wicklow County Board in 2013, following months of research and focus groups.[6] Out of this exercise developed the first Garden County Academy committee, reporting to the county board,[7] with the remit to develop a new county football development squad system:

  • Gerry Grehan – Chairman
  • Niall O'Brien – Secretary
  • Joe O'Brien
  • Robert Walsh
  • Gavin Wynne
  • Patrick McWalter
  • Hugh Kenny
  • Martin Fitzgerald
  • Brendan Smyth
  • Daragh Gregan
  • Philip McGillicuddy
  • Owen Doyle

The new structure saw a complete rebrand and reorganisation of the squads from 2014, with a threefold increase in the number of players on county football development squads. In addition, forty new volunteer coaches were recruited to coach the expanded squads.[8] A separate part of the original plan which aimed to address the standard of football in the county's secondary schools was not implemented. At the end of the first season, Niall O'Brien, Joe O'Brien and Gerry Grehan resigned from the committee.[9]

The work of the academy showed the first signs of success in a historic 2018 season, when the Wicklow minor football team defeated both Dublin[10] and Meath[11] in the Leinster Championship, before drawing with Kildare in the semi-final[12] and narrowly losing the replay.[13]

CamogieEdit

Wicklow was among the foundation members of the Camogie Association, several Bray members won All Ireland medals with Dublin, and the county supplied all the members of the Irish team that controversially competed in the 1924 Tailteann Games.[14] Lucy Cullen-Byrne served as president of the Camogie Association). The county won the Leinster Junior Championship in 1964, and contested the Máire Ní Chinnéide Cup finals of 2008,[15] 2009 and 2011.[16] They won Division 5 of the National Camogie League in 2009.[17] Knockananna won Division 1 Féile na nGael 1975 while Avoca won the Caithlín Ní Thoimín Shield in 1979 and Kiltegan won the Coiste Chontae an Chláir Shield at Féile na nGael in 1999.

Under Camogie's National Development Plan 2010-2015, "Our Game, Our Passion",[18] five new camogie clubs were to be established in the county by 2015.[19]

Wicklow were beaten by Monaghan in the 2011 All Ireland Junior B Camogie Championship Final and have not fielded an adult team in inter-county competitions since.

Ladies' footballEdit

Ann McGillycuddy of Wicklow won the inaugural ladies' All-Ireland Kick Fada Championship in 2001.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Byrne, Christopher Michael". Dictionary of Irish Biography.
  2. ^ "Inpho capture the beauty of Valleymount GAA grounds from winter sky". Hogan Stand. 16 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Garden County Academy homepage". Official Wicklow GAA website. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  4. ^ "Title on Wicklow fans' Christmas wish-list". Wicklow People. 30 December 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  5. ^ "Gerry's honest appraisal a real boost". Wicklow People. 29 January 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  6. ^ "Good attendance at unique event". Wicklow People. 11 August 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  7. ^ "Wicklow GAA unveil their 2014 committees". Wicklow People. 16 February 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  8. ^ "Garden County Academy aiming to challenge for Leinster Minor Title". Wicklow People. 18 February 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Raft of Changes to the Garden Academy Body". Wicklow People. 2 December 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  10. ^ "Wicklow minors cause massive upset after beating Dublin in Leinster championship". Irish Independent. 27 June 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  11. ^ "Leinster MFC round-up: Wicklow book semi-final slot after Meath win". Irish Times. 3 July 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  12. ^ "Wicklow and Kildare minor footballers play out epic draw". GAA.ie. 8 July 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  13. ^ "Kildare's Curtin opens up Wicklow with 1-2 off the bench". GAA.ie. 13 July 2018. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  14. ^ Moran, Mary (2011). A Game of Our Own: The History of Camogie. Dublin, Ireland: Cumann Camógaíochta. p. 460.
  15. ^ 2008 Jun B Tyrone 4-11 Wicklow 0-3 on Camogie.ie
  16. ^ {http://www.camogie.ie/Home/tabid/54/mid/411/newsid412/1782/Grennan-propels-Monaghan-to-victory/Default.aspx 2011 Máire Ní Chinnéide Cup final Monaghan 1-12 Wicklow 1-7 report on Camogie.ie[dead link]
  17. ^ 2009 Div 5 Wicklow 2-7 Monaghan 1-1 report on Camogie.ie
  18. ^ "Final goal for camogie". Independent.ie.
  19. ^ National Development Plan 2010-2015, Our Game, Our Passion information page on camogie.ie, pdf download (778k) from Camogie.ie download site

External linksEdit