John Evans has praised the work being done with young players within clubs across Wicklow, saying that it is offering an example for other counties to follow.
The Wicklow senior football manager was speaking at the launch of the 2019 county championships, and singled out the likes of Tinahely and Baltinglass for praise.
According to Bill Hill, of the Baltinglass panel that lifted the under-20 title last year, 13 players featured in the senior team that lifted the division one league title this season; putting them in a strong position to mount a challenge for their first championship since 2016
“Looking through the likes of Tinahely, looking at [Arklow Geraldines-Ballymoney], looking at some of the young lads being injected into Baltinglass; they won the under-20s last year, against AGB. There were some very fine footballers, and these guys have been injected into teams,” Evans said.
“It’s great to see that. It’s great to see young blood coming in. It’s great to see the vibrancy, the young blood, and the pace.”
Reflecting on 2018, Evans reserved special credit for last year’s senior championship final. Six years on from their last win, St. Pat’s secured their 13rd title by way of a dramatic replay victory over neighbours Rathnew, after Shane Murley had rescued a draw for the Wicklow Town side in the initial fixture.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, and I have looked at a lot of county finals in a lot of different counties, I thought last year’s senior final, draw and replay, was top notch. The sporting aspect of it was brilliant,” the Kerryman said.
“Two teams that are nestled right next to eachother. Everyone was expecting one thing or another. It was really quality stuff, nail-biting from the first couple of minutes to the last.
“Everywhere I go, in any county, it’s referenced as, ‘are they still doing this, that, or the other, above in Wicklow?’ That’s the kind of football that you want to play.”
The 2019 Wicklow football championships kick-off on Saturday, the 29th of June, as Ballymanus take on Coolkenno in the Intermediate Football Championship.