On his most recent birthday, Wickow manager Mick O’Dwyer entered his 76th year and yet there seems to be no diminution of the footballing fire that burns in his belly.
On Saturday evening his side faced a daunting trip north to take on the might of Armagh and not alone were the pundits and GAA fans predicting a crushing defeat for the Garden County but most portended the end of a very long era in management for the Kerry legend.
The much-decorated player and manager must have gone through the full gamut of emotions as he watched his side open up a sizeable advantage, then give it all away and then come back again to force an extra-time that somewhat mirrored the second half of ordinary time. The game had everything – except stability.
But all through Saturday’s rollercoaster ride the smile on Mick O’s face suggested he was enjoyed his football as much as ever.
Talking to Sunday Sport’s Con Murphy, who enquired as to whether he had indeed taken as much pleasure from the match as had been perceived, O’Dwyer replied: ‘I certainly did. It was a wonderful performance from our team and also a wonderful performance from Armagh. It was a very, very competitive game – real championship stuff.
‘It was touch and go all the way through. There was only a few points in it. We were about five points up at half-time and Armagh came back in the second half and drew level and then went ahead and we came back again. It was the goals more than anything that saved us in the finish.
‘We had a chance just before that (Aaron Kernan’s equalising point) and James Stafford, who had an outstanding game – as good a game as I’ve seen in the midfield from any player at any period – had a chance towards the finish and he dropped the ball into the hands of the goalkeeper and they went down the other end of the field and that’s where the score came from.
'They’re the little things that change games but, I suppose, overall a draw was a fair result on the night.
‘It was a wonderful game of football and I think all the people that were there really enjoyed it. There’s no doubt about that.’
So, no talk of retirement then?
‘Well, they’re writing me off for many, many years, as you know,’ he added.
’That goes on regularly but I don’t take any notice of that whatsoever. That’s part and parcel of scribes. They have to keep writing about the games and about the individuals involved.
'I’m still there anyway and we’re still in there and we’re still in with a shout so I’m hoping that we’ll have a good competitive game again next Saturday.’
O’Dwyer is looking forward to welcoming Armagh down to Wicklow for the replay but is it really fortress Aughrim, as has been suggested?
‘Ah sure they were telling us that about Armagh when we were going up there that it would be very hard for us to beat them. Down in Aughrim there’s a pitch there, it’s about 160 yards long and a hundred yards wide so there’s no difference playing on that pitch as there is playing on any other pitch in the country.
‘But yes we’ve done pretty well there since I went to Wicklow so let’s hope it continues there on Saturday.
‘It’s great for Wicklow and it’s great for Wicklow football. It’s not alone what it’s doing for the present team but what about all the young people who would like to follow the game. ‘
And O’Dwyer is confident that the locals will be out in force to support their team this weekend.
‘There’ll be a massive crowd there, I can assure you.’