Annacurra Rejoice written by Gerry Grehan (Sports Psychologist, Wicklow Times and East Coast Radio)
There are many GAA people in Wicklow who believe that the Intermediate championship is the one that is hardest to win. Not alone are there many teams who are capable of winning the title, but the finals seem to go down to the wire. This year was no exception. In the end it was the people’s choice who won it. Annacurra delivered the goods.
But what a great championship it has been. We had great football, close contests, controversy and a load of play-offs and drawn games. That is what the punters love. There were lots of dreams. Aughrim were tipped by many but Shillelagh came in typical style to turn that dream into a nightmare. Ballymanus looked set for the semi finals only to be caught in both the last minute of normal and the last minute of injury time by the Sheehan brothers of Avondale. And then when Avondale looked like they were home and dry in the semis, Eire Og came back with a last minute equaliser. So at the end of the day Eire Og Greystones and Annacurra qualified for the big day.
As the punters made their call, you could see the challenge between the heart and the head. The heart was saying Annacurra. They have their share of disappointments both on and off the field over the few years. The head was saying Eire Og based on their mixture of youth and experience, but mostly on the presence of Micko’s men Chester Kelly and Darren Hayden.
We all know now that ‘the heart’ came out winners. Despite kicking fifteen wides, Annacurra thanks to a man of the match performance from Alan Byrne, came out on top. The celebrations were mighty. Great club men like chairman Martin Fitzgerald proudly watched as the team came through the village on the celebration trailer on their way to ‘The Saltee’ !!! Terry Neill who played corner forward when they last won the Intermediate title was there with his 1953 county medal. And the management team were there. Robert Doyle who broke Annacurra hearts in 2008 when he managed Carnew , is now the new hero in the village. He was well supported by John Horan and Thomas Doyle, two men who have given great service to the club over the years. Indeed Thomas was on the losing side in five finals for the ‘Derry’ men.
But on Sunday night that was all a distant memory. What was not a distant memory were the friends who could not be there. Joey Doyle who died tragically in 1992, and Ciaran Shannon, so much a part of this team till his sad death last year, were not far away. Indeed there were some who would say, they were very much part of it, and their memories gave the boys that extra inch of effort that was the difference between winning and losing.
Annacurra have a long and honoured history. Kevin Stapleton captures it all on their superb web site. I have no doubt it will be even better after this great victory. There is no team in Wicklow who deserve a victory more than Annacurra. Let the celebrations continue ……….