Wicklow forward Patrick O’Connor has rejected the suggestion that the Division 4 outfit should be allowed to sign up players that neighbours Dublin don’t require.
O’Connor hailed the contributions of new recruits David Devereux and Oisin Manning this season, both of whom play their club football in Dublin. Devereux, brother of former Dublin defender Nicky, played for the Dubs in the O’Byrne Cup while Manning lined out for St Jude’s in the Dublin final last October. Their transfers were passed as both players have family ties to the Garden County, though Wicklow legend Kevin O’Brien suggested in 2017 that the rule should be extended to allow for any Dubliner to join if they wish.
Weaker hurling counties, such as Kildare and Kerry, have benefited in the past from a rule allowing them to take in unwanted players from top-ranked counties.
“There are a lot of quality players up in Dublin that are not going to get inter-county exposure,” argued former Wicklow All-Star O’Brien. “It has to be frustrating. For Wicklow to get two or three of those, it would be outstanding.”
Holders Dublin have currently used 35 players in the Allianz League, with that figure likely to rise to nearly 40 before the campaign is over, while an almost totally different group of players represented the county in January’s O’Byrne Cup.
“I’d moreso prefer if they had to be eligible, if there was a bit of Wicklow blood there,” said O’Connor at the launch of the Renault Ireland 2019 GAA World Games.
“It would kind of feel like it was a donation otherwise, like just being handed down players.”
Kilmacud Crokes forward Shane Horan, who also competed in last year’s Dublin final, subsequently agreed to play for Offaly under the GAA’s parentage rule.
O’Connor said Wicklow have been glad to get Devereux and Manning with both players lining out in defence for John Evans’ side.
“I think both their parents’ are from Wicklow,” said O’Connor. “If they’re eligible and they’d be an addition, why wouldn’t you take them, realistically. The two lads have fitted in with everyone; they get on with the group really well, they put 120% into everything that they do and they’ve been outstanding in the league. I think David Devereux was man of the match in a couple of the games, so if they’re eligible and they can boost us on, then definitely we’re happy to have them.”
Wicklow have four points collected so far from five Division 4 games, leaving them tied with Limerick, Wexford and Waterford behind the already promoted Derry and Leitrim. It’s an improvement on last year’s campaign, when Wicklow finished bottom with no wins, though O’Connor said he’s still frustrated.
“We’re still disappointed, because at the start of the year, promotion was the main goal,” he said. “Then obviously we got a good start down in Waterford, we beat them down there. I think we were winning after 70 minutes against Leitrim, but then conceded a goal and two points. The Leitrim match was the big slip up, we saw that we had Waterford away first and then two home matches and beating Leitrim would have given us the momentum we were looking for. We still have two wins under our belts, but it’s a disappointment that the games we could have won to push for promotion went against us.
“That was the main goal, but we’ve Kildare now in the championship in May. We’re hoping to give them a good rattle. It’ll be a good, competitive clash. I’d be confident we can do that, because we’ll be going in under the radar, they won’t be worrying about us.”