May 11th, 2020

Thanks to Morgan O’Callaghan for sending this brilliant story about Allenwood’s SFC semi-final victory and Senior Football Captain John Wiltshire’s wedding day on Saturday September 11th 2004. A day that will be talked about for many years to come in Allenwood.

Great Days In St. Conleth’s Park

2004 is a very special year in the history of Allenwood GFC as we captured our 1st and only Kildare Senior Football Championship title. While October 3rd was County Final Day that year and probably should be the most memorable day in St. Conleth’s Park for most Allenwood people, Saturday September 11th will always stand out in the memory for many people involved that year due to its uniqueness.

When Allenwood defeated Clane 2-11 to 0-4 in the quarter-final, little did they realise the headache that awaited them. They were drawn to face their 1999 County Final opponents Sarsfields in the semi-final and were keen to avenge that defeat. The only issue was that the semi-final was fixed for the same weekend that captain John Wiltshire was getting married. All sorts of options were being discussed that would enable both to proceed as planned but finding the best solution for all parties was proving difficult. Allenwood Chairman Harry Doyle knew how much of a conundrum it was for all as he had known John Wiltshire since he was a child and his own son John was the best man! On the Monday night before the game, bride to be Julie McManmon landed down to Morgan O’Callaghan’s house knowing he would tell it to her straight as to what the realistic options were. They discussed playing the game on the Saturday morning, on the Sunday and having the players all leave the wedding early on the Saturday night or even playing the game some evening the following week. In the end Julie decided that the only solution that ensured her and John had the best day possible with all of their friends and family and also enabled the game to proceed with a fully fit Allenwood squad was for her and John to approach the parish priest Fr. Eddie Moore to move their wedding ceremony to earlier in the day, hope that Sarsfields would agree to playing the game in the late afternoon and that the Keadeen would delay the meal until later in the evening. In fairness to Fr. Moore, Sarsfields and the Keadeen Hotel, they all agreed to the requests and the rest is history, though John Wiltshire, best man John Doyle and groomsmen Mickser Mullen and Morgan O’Callaghan were almost late for the game!

The photographs were to be immediately done in the Keadeen on arrival from the church. The lads were all ready for their photos, as was bride Julie, but the bridesmaids were nowhere to be seen. They had decided to check in before the photographs without informing anybody or realising just how tight for time John and his entourage were! Indeed, John’s mother, Doreen, who loved her football, announced at one stage that the group may just skip the photos and head to the game. Finally, the bridesmaids all arrived, and the photographs were completed. The lads all grabbed their gear bags and jumped into Louise Mullen’s car to be chauffeured to the ground. Unfortunately, it took about 15 minutes just to get to the lights at Dunnes Stores due to the volume of traffic. John Wiltshire decided that there was no option but to head around the ring road and take the one-way street before the library up to St. Conleth’s. Of course, when Louise went to take the turn, she realised that the lads wanted her to go the wrong way up a one-way street! As was quickly pointed out, the Gardai will be grand once they see a gang of lads with top hats and tails and gear bags on their laps. With about 20 minutes to spare to throw in the groom and 3 of the groomsmen made their way into the dressing room and hurriedly changed into their playing gear.

Just as the game commenced, bride Julie and her bridesmaids made their way up the steps in St. Conleth’s in their full wedding attire to watch the game. In a thrilling encounter the Blues emerged victorious by a point and had qualified for the county final. The county board certainly rose to the occasion on the day and provided their own champagne reception for the bridal party on the pitch after the game. The wedding reception proved interesting as it became as much a post-game celebration with many supporters arriving to the afters in their Allenwood polo shirts rather than suits. It is a day that will live long in the memory of every Allenwood supporter, but it certainly became a dream wedding day for captain John Wiltshire and his stunning bride Julie. John proclaimed in his wedding speech that the next time the group would gather for a dinner the Dermot Bourke Cup would be at the table and sure enough it proved to be the case. What a day in St. Conleth’s Park and what a year! C’mon the Blues!

We want to hear about your favourite memories from St. Conleth’s Park over the years.
 
From the county scene to the club scene, from adult level to underage level, from football to hurling, from ladies football to camogie, everyone has a story to tell.
 
Email your story (and photos) to pro.kildare@gaa.ie to play your part in a special feature on St. Conleth’s Park!

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