The club hurling scene in Wicklow has been for far too long severely lacking the adequate numbers of clubs for a County with such a large population. A once thriving Junior Hurling grade featured many clubs like Avoca, Fergal Ogs, Enniskerry/Kilmac, Shillelagh etc and second and third teams from clubs with current Senior Hurling sides. In recent years however there has been a severe decline in clubs participating in hurling in County Wicklow yet our County team performs heroically far beyond the levels that would be expected from such a small playing pool.
Thankfully in recent years there are positive signs of a renaissance with Aughrim not only returning to the hurling ranks but winning a Junior B County final in their first year back and this has hopefully been the catalyst for other clubs to follow their lead. Knockananna have took the plunge and entered a Junior hurling team for 2020 and are putting in a lot of effort at underage to promote hurling which is extremely positive for the future and the news got even better as Western Gaels have also returned to the fold with massive planning and efforts being put in to relight the small ball fire in the northwest. The real positive for the observers is the efforts being put in by Western Gaels at underage level to build the clubs foundation and in doing so they are all but ensuring that North West Wicklow could be be a major hurling stronghold in the very near future. Speaking with the wonderful people behind the club we got an insight into how things are shaping up:
WESTERN GAELS HURLING CLUB
Western Gaels Hurling Club is based in Northwest County Wicklow. The club is to facilitate players from Blessington, Hollywood, Valleymount, Lacken, Kilbride, Dunlavin and Donard who wish to play hurling at juvenile and adult level. Over the last five years due to a lack of numbers the juvenile players have played with Michael Dwyers and the adults with Kiltegan. The aim of the club now is to re-energise and consolidate the juvenile and adult players under Western Gaels allowing players to nourish their love of hurling at a local community level and give them the opportunity to play and develop their skills in one of the oldest field games in the world.
In order to meet these aims, the club has mapped out a player development plan from nursery, u11, u13, u15 and u17 through to adult and in time to have Western Gaels represented at all these age groups. Currently the club’s resources consist of players and mentors along with the facilities and pitch resources of the affiliated clubs, but in order to progress, financial resources will have to be found. Wicklow County Board and the Leinster Council will assist where possible with coaching, however the volunteer mentors and parents from Western Gaels will have to provide the majority of the resources.
Western Gaels GAA will be fielding U7,U9,U11,U13,U15 and Junior hurling teams for the 2020 season.
Chairperson is Matt Byrne (Hollywood GAA)
Secretary is Sandra Cleary (Dunlavin GAA)
Treasurers are Anne Smith (Lacken/Kilbride GAA) & Paul Darker (Dunlavin GAA)
PRO is Declan Healy (Donard/Glen GAA)
If you live out west and are looking to be part of this great new venture then make sure and get in touch and bring your kids along and get them involved:
Contact Secretary.firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Facebook Page