Hurlers failed to build on great win over West­meath

GAELIC GAMES PETER KEOGH LOOKS BACK ON WICK­LOW’S YEAR IN IN­TER-COUNTY HURL­ING

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A GREAT win over the Christy Ring Cup hold­ers West­meath in Ark­low had to be the high point of the hurl­ing year in Wick­low.

Even if we failed to build on that victory and came up just short of of mak­ing the fi­nal of the Ring Cup that win showed that the ma­te­rial was still there to field a good hurl­ing team.

John Mitchell had de­cided to stay on as man­ager while his back­room team of Seán Ma­her, Seán Keogh, Martin Barnes, Mau­rice Mol­loy, Seán Doyle, Jackie Napier and John Kelly all signed on for an­other year.

The hurl­ing sea­son started with the an­nounce­ment that a new spon­sor was com­ing on board. Cos­grave De­vel­op­ments had agreed to take over the spon­sor­ship of the county hurl­ing teams for a three-year pe­riod, a pack­age was put in place and was ac­cepted by the County Board and widely wel­comed by all sides.

A new sys­tem had been put in place at cen­tral level whereby Tier 2 and 3 coun­ties could avail of play­ers from the top coun­ties un­der cer­tain con­di­tions.

John Mitchell de­cided to avail of this scheme and brought on board play­ers from Tip­per­ary, Cork and Wex­ford. The suc­cess of that scheme has yet to be ac­cessed but suf­fice to say that it did beef up Mitchell’s panel and gave his se­lec­tors ex­tra op­tions.

KE­HOE CUP

Colleges teams were al­lowed to take part in the Ke­hoe Cup and Wick­low kicked off the year with a match against Car­low I.T. in the new Bray Em­mets Ccm­plex at Old Conna in Jan­uary.

Mitchell was team build­ing and was try­ing out some new play­ers and was happy to get a win – 1-16 to 2-9.

Scor­ers: Jonathan O’Neill 0-7; Eoin Ma­son 1-2; Jef­frey Ber­ming­ham and Fin­tan Don­nolly 0-2 each; Andy O’Brien, Eoin Ma­her and Shane McGrath 0-1 each.

Other new­com­ers who got a run that day in­cluded Colm Ryan from Tip­per­ary; T.J. Byrne (ARP), Paul Ga­han (Avon­dale) and Paulie Sut­ton (Eire Og).

Wick­low 3-20, Roscom­mon 3-13: Wick­low’s sec­ond match was also played in Bray and was against the Nicky Rachard Cup win­ners Roscom­mon.

Wick­low led 3-12 to 1-5 at half­time but had to ride out a strong Roscom­mon rally in the last quar­ter.

Scor­ers: Jonathan O’Neill 0-8; Shane McGrath 2-0; Enan Glynn 1-1; Eoin Ma­son and Andy O’Brien 0-4 each; Colm Ryan 0-2 and Joe Mur­phy 0-1.

An­other Tip­per­ary man Ger White, Cork man Adrian Shanahan and John Harper (ARP) were the new­com­ers in that match.

The two wins was enough to see Wick­low through the semi-fi­nal but this time they were away to Meath in Pairc Tail­teann.

Meath 0-13; Wick­low 0-12: The Ke­hoe Cup trail ended that Fe­bru­ary day in Na­van but Mitchell was happy that his team was beginning to take shape.

Jonathan was again the top scorer with 0-6 while an­other new­comer, Ro­nan Keddy got a point. The other scor­ers were Andy O’Brien 0-4; and Ea­monn Kearns 0-1.

THE LEAGUE

Wick­low 1-16, Mayo 0-17: The league started the fol­low­ing Sun­day, Fe­bru­ary 10, and Wick­low were at home to Mayo in Ark­low. With the ben­e­fit of hind­sight we can see that Mayo, now trained by Gal­way star Pete Fin­nerty laid down a marker that day – they were go­ing to be no pushover for any team. They led by 0-11 to 0-9 at half-time.

Mid­fielder and Ccp­tain Jonathan O’Neill led by ex­am­ple that day and it was his goal, crashed to the net from a close in free in the 50th minute that saved the day for Wick- low. Jonathan scored 1-9; Ea­monn Fur­long 0-5; Eoin Ma­son and Adrian Shanahan 0-1 each. Gal­way man Brian Stones was back in the team for his first game that day.

Wick­low 1-11, Kerry 4-7: The Wick­low de­fence leaked the goals in both halves down in Tralee and Wick­low re­turned home point­less.

John Keogh, a great ser­vant to the team down the years limped off in­jured that day and played no more for the year.

An­other man who played his last game for Wick­low that day was goal­keeper Tom Finn.

Jonathan O’Neill scored 0-9; Brian Stones 1-0; Eoin Ma­son 0-2.

Kil­dare 1-16, Wick­low 1-14: This game started at an elec­tri­fy­ing pace; Mat­tie Dowd shook the Wick­low net in­side 30 sec­onds while a John Con­nor’s goal at the other end, al­most from the puck-out brought the sides level. Kil­dare only sealed victory in in­jury-time but los­ing a home game was a big blow to Wick­low’s league am­bi­tions.

Keith Barnes, who had been in and out of goal all year, took over the po­si­tion per­ma­nently that day and had a very good year. An­other great ser­vant of Wick­low hurl­ing, Michael An­thony O’Neill, played that day, while Mitchell in­tro­duced an­other new­comer, Tom Dev­ereux from Wex­ford

Scor­ers: Jonathan O’Neill 0-7; John Con­nors 1-1; Ea­monn Fur­long 0-4; Shane McGrath and Eoin Ma­son 0-1 each.

West­meath 3-19, Wick­low 0-9: Cu­sack Park in Mullingar was sel­dom a happy hunt­ing ground for Wick­low teams, hurl­ing of foot­ball. This was the only match in the year where it must be said that Wick­low were out­classed but they were to turn the ta­bles on the Lake County at a later date.

Billy Cud­dihy, who came on in the sec­ond-half was the only new­comer.

Jonathan scored seven of the nine points with Joe Mur­phy and John Con­nors get­ting one each.

Wick­low 3-12, Roscm­mon 3-9: Wick­low were at home to Roscom­mon in their last match and fin­ished on a winning note.

New­comer Tommy Dev­ereux was the star, scor­ing two great goals in the first-half. Shane Byrne got the other goal; Jonathan O’Neill 0-3; Joe Mur­phy and John Con­nors 0-2 each; Jef­frey Ber­ming­ham, Eoin Ma­son and De­nis Mo­ran 0-1 each.

De­nis Mo­ran was back in the team for the first time in that match and it was also the first time that ‘Bosco’ was not the top scorer.

The team that played that day was: Keith Barnes (ARP); Mark Collins, Gra­ham (both Carnew), Stephen Kelly (Eire Og); Eoin O’Neill (Kil­te­gan), Colm Ryan (Moy­carker/Bor­ris), Ea­monn Kearns (Avon­dale); Jonathan O’Neill (Glenealy), Jef­frey Ber­ming­han (Kil­te­gan); Tommy Dev­ereux, Joe Mur­phy (Carnew), John Con­nors (St. Pat’s); Eoin Ma­son, Adrian Shanahan, Ea­monn Fur­long (All Bray Em­mets). Subs. - Shane Byrne (Avon­dale), De­nis Mo­ran (Buf­fers Al­ley).

Oth­ers that played in the league in­cluded: Tim Finn (Avon­dale), John Keogh (Kil­te­gan), Ger White (Money­gall), Ro­nan Keddy, Fin­tan Don­nolly (Kil­coole), Brian Stones (Meel­ick/Eyre­court); Shane Ma­Grath (Avon­dale); Eoin Ma­her (Mul­li­na­vat), Billy Cud­dihy (Eire (0g); M.A. O’Neill (Glenealy), Jim Con­nors (St. Pat’s).

CON­TIN­UED NEXT PAGE

Wick­low's Seán Kin­sella keeps his eye on the ball while un­der pres­sure from West­meath's Pat Clarke.

Ea­mon Fur­long about to block down West­meath's Paul Gre­ville dur­ing the Christy Ring Cup match in Ark­low.

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