The ref factor
Wicklow was the only county in the country to see no 'activity' in the War of Independence. None whatsoever. No ambushes, no reprisals, no assaults on army barracks with sods of turf. Nothing. Not a hair on a Black and Tan's head was harmed in Wicklow during the years 1919 to 1922. Now, you might think that that means that Wicklow is very peaceful county, slow to anger. Wrong.
For what psychologists increasingly believe is that all that bottled up rage, all that pent up anger has been unleashed, in furious torrents, on those poor sods charged with officiating at local faction fights/club matches. Yes, Wicklow is to GAA referees what Istanbul was to English football teams in the 90s. It is the gulag to which Pat McEneaney should banish referees who have done badly on recent assessors tests, and it is the place to which Eddie Keher no doubt wishes to send referees who've done well on recent assessors tests. Whether it be stories of locking refs in the boots of cars, or goading them into sending three opposition players off for next to nothing, Wicklow remains the gold standard in intimidating referees by which all other counties are judged.
Every now and again, some novice will slip up and refer to Wicklow's home ground by its older name, 'Aughrim.' Such a flagrant show of disrespect for the scenic old ground should be greeted with either a firm rap around the back of the head or a spell in the boot of a Opel Corsa. Its 'Fortress Aughrim' and god willing its febrile energies should aid Wicklow as they navigate their way through the early rounds of the championship.
The back door
Wicklow has never believed much in the provincial championship. They have always preferred to lose at some stage in the Leinster championship and take their chances via a different route. Pre-2001, this was a particularly unwise strategy as there was no back door, but they persisted nonetheless.
Wicklow is one of only three counties in the country not to have won a provincial championship. This is their great strength. They have no hang-ups about bridging any gap to past provincial glory, which serves only as a distraction to the main objective. Advancing in the All-Ireland series. Bollocks to Leinster. Get a few out-of-sorts giants down to Fortress Aughrim on humid Saturday evenings in July with Paul McGrath in attendance and build some momentum. The best route to September.
Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE