North East Wicklow has been an area that it’s fair to say has not tasted huge success in the big ball code in terms of Wicklow Senior GAA & LGFA Football Silverware in recent times but the signs that things might be about to change in the coming years are steadily increasing.
North East Wicklow holds a large percentage of County Wicklow’s population but this asset has not been translated into Senior County Titles in the GAA/LGFA in Football with Bray Emmets Senior Hurlers being the only northeastern side to bring a senior title to the region in recent times but there’s a huge push to alter that stat line underway in the northern corner. Bray Emmets, Eire Og Greystones and Newtown are the flag bearers for Senior Mens Football in the northeast but despite showing a lot of promise the promised land has yet to be reached by any of these sides in recent times and in the Ladies code only Bray Emmets Ladies who captured the 2020 Intermediate title to move back to Senior ranks for 2021 have a chance to bring a Senior title to the northeast as do their clubs Senior Camogie side who have seen a West Wicklow dominance of the Silverware.
Luckily however that is far from the full picture when it comes to the future prospects of the clubs that look upon the Sugarloaf, often mistaken for a dormant volcano which is exactly what sums up the North East of the county in relation to GAA/LGFA success. Kilcoole and Kilmacanogue have won junior a football championships in recent years and are two teams who are knocking hard on the door of Senior Football as they are two of the premier teams in the Intermediate grade while Enniskerry who captured the 2019 Junior B Title are progressing steadily along the same path of their near neighbours and it’s hard to argue that the hard work being put in by the club people in the clubs mentioned isn’t beginning to show signs of paying dividends.
This article is based on the effort being put into tapping into the huge population asset that exists in the northeastern region by the clubs and the hardworking members in one such club Clan Na Gael is the epitome of that. We spoke to Wicklow, Kilmacanogue and Clan Na Gael GAA/LGFA stalwart Christoper Fox about the work being put in to ensure that Senior Success is very much a real possibility in the not so distant future. We asked Christy to give us his insight into the work being put in to help Clan Na Gael which is an amalgamation of the Enniskerry & Kilmacanogue Clubs at underage in both the GAA & LGFA codes.
The old adage states that Rome wasn’t built in a day but the Romans didn’t have the luxury of having people like Christy Fox and the great club people involved in Clan Na Gael who have the foundations well built and building the success on those foundations is now well underway with the Ladies Team capturing the 2020 Intermediate B Championship Title at the expense of local rivals Eire Og which is hugely impressive given its only the formative years for Clann Na Gael.
Here’s what Christy had to say on the work going on in Clan Na Gael and the goals they have set for the club:
Short Term Objectives
The short term objective is to have U7, U9 and U11 teams in both Enniskerry and Kilmac with both boys and girls teams from U12 to minor as Clan na Gael.
Medium Term Goals
The medium term goals are to be producing 4/5 players for each club at adult level in both mens and ladies (Ladies play adult as Clan na Gael)
Long Term Goal
Our long term goal is to be competitive at Div 1 in U15 and minor with 2 adult teams in both Enniskerry and Kilmac as well as 2 ladies teams. We have hired Jackie Kinch as a GPO who is now coaching in all 4 national schools in the area as well as training up club coaches and she has been fantastic and has hit the ground running.
We have increased participation especially female participation and it has given a whole new dynamic to the club.
We went 10 years without a minor team and it has left the adult panel tight on numbers but we have now put 3 minor teams back to back with 5 of last years minors being part of our intermediate panel(Kilmac). We have struggled to compete at minor but it’s an extremely competitive grade with the 6 teams in our division drawing from 20 clubs.
Our U15s look very promising and we have good numbers right back down to the nursery. There’s something very special about Friday night Go Games as well as a pitch full of 5/6 year olds having fun doing the nursery.
The demographics of Kilmac/Enniskerry is that it’s now a very affluent middle class area and no longer a traditional GAA rural area and we now have a huge amount of first generation GAA juvenile players. In Dublin the GAA has been very successful in similar middle class areas so what the club has to offer has to be well run and fun for everyone. We recently opened our new clubhouse and installed floodlights in Kilmac on the back of great support from the local community and have managed to increase volunteers to help out in the club. I played both football and hurling for the club and there was always an ethos to give back to the juveniles when you finished playing.
We look to the future clear with where we want to get to, what’s good for Enniskerry is good for Kilmac and visa versa and realistically we know Kilmac has a small pool to pick from and Enniskerry has a lot of untapped potential especially with 3 national schools but if the clubs can work together constructively maybe we can achieve our long term goals.