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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. 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 – the Wicklow–born John O’Leary.
Wicklow’s biggest achievement remains the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship won by the Baltinglass club in 1990.
Wicklow seem to be getting somewhere with GAA legend, Mick O’ Dwyer and his backroom staff. Their last Leinster Championship win, and first ever in Croke Park, coming against Kildare in 2008 and then narrowly losing to Laois in the quarter finals in Dr. Cullen Park.
Amazingly, Wicklow had not won a senior championship game at Croke Park until May 2008 . On 18 May 2008, under Mick O’Dwyer Wicklow beat Kildare in Croke Park, with a scoreline of 0-13 to 0-09. Although they had not won until 2008, they had come very close on a number of recent occasions.
Under the management of Hugh Kenny Wicklow lined out against Meath in the opening round of the 2004 Leinster Championship. They were playing exceptionally well and were leading Meath by 1-6 to 0-7 early in the second half when midfielder Ciaran Clancy was harshly sent off. This seemed to knock the stuffing out of Wicklow who never recovered and lost 2-13 to 1-8.
Against Kildare in the opening round of the 2005 Leinster Championship they came very close to a first win leading Kildare for most of the match but unfortunately for Wicklow, the age old problem of not being able to close out a game surfaced, and they were ultimately beaten by 1-17 to 2-12.
Then in the opening round of the 2007 Leinster Championship under the management of the great Mick O’Dwyer Wicklow almost had a highly fancied Louth side beaten but a couple of late scores saved Louth from being Wicklow’s first ever Croke Park victims on a scoreline of 1-11 to 0-14. It then took Louth two replays to finish off Wicklow which they ultimately did in style back at Croke Park.
As Wicklow were a Division 4 team they were not permitted to enter the 2007 backdoor and so instead they entered the Tommy Murphy Cup. Wicklow did very well in reaching the final where they faced Antrim at Croke Park. They on the match in dramatic fashion with a late Tommy Gill goal in extra time, securing the Wicklow senior footballers second ever national trophy, and first ever win in Croke Park.
Tommy Murphy Cup – 2007
All-Ireland SFC B 1992
All-Ireland JFC – 1936, 2002
All-Ireland Junior Hurling Championship 1967, 1971
All-Ireland Vocational Schools Championship Football 1974, 1983, 2006
All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling Championship finalists in 1971
All-Ireland Ladies’ JFC 1990
All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship – Baltinglass 1990
Leinster Senior Football Championship finalists 1897, (Semi-finalists 14 times – last in 1995)
Leinster Minor Football Championship 1975
Leinster Junior Football Championship 1906, 1909, 1936, 1949, 1969, 2002
O’Byrne Cup – 1955, 1957, 1986, 1996
Wicklow hurlers’ greatest achievement was a draw with Galway in the 1971 National Hurling League. Only a ate point from John Connolly saved Galway from defeat. Wicklow also won junior All-Ireland’s in 1967 and 1971. The Wicklow Senior Huling Championship 2007 consists of 7 clubs: Carnew Emmets, Glenealy(2007 Champions),Kiltegan(2007 Finalist), St. Patricks Wicklow Town, Avondale, Kilcoole(2007 Billy Byrne Cup Winners) and Bray Emmets(Billy Byrne Cup Finalist). Wicklow have enjoyed a successful 2007 league Campaign saw them beat all teams in their division including Laois, Carlow and Meath.
Wicklow Schools GAA There is a very strong emphasis on Gaelic games in schools in Wicklow, both 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.
In the Cumann na mBunscoil league for primary schools, St Cronan’s BNS continues to be a dominant force in
Gaelic football, having won the Wicklow championship 4 times in the last 5 years.
The countys Vocational Schools team have won no fewer then 12 Leinster and 3 All Ireland Championships.