Mayo end Wicklow’s hopes of Christy Ring Cup success
GAELIC GAMES PETER KEOGH LOOKS BACK ON WICKLOW’S YEAR IN INTER-COUNTY HURLING
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CHRISTY RING CUP
It was a rather mixed bag of news for John Mitchell as he prepared his team for the Ring Cup – the All-Ireland for the Tier 2 counties.
The headlines one week carried the message ‘Boost for hurlers as Hyland returns’.
The next week the same headlines proclaimed ‘Blow for Mitchell as county hurler Keogh suffers horrific injury at work’.
That was it. The long-serving Don Hyland was back to give a badly-need boost to the attack but Mitchell would have to plan without his regular full-back Graham Keogh.
It did not help that John Keogh and M.A. O’Neill were also carrying injuries.
Wicklow 3-20, Roscommon 0-12: A promising start for Wicklow at Athleague; Hyland and Timmy Collins beefed up the attack while young Stephen Kelly took over the full-back position and did well.
Mitchell slotted in U-21 starlet Ronan Keddy at midfield.
Jonathan O’Neill was at his brilliant best and scored 111; Timmy Collins and Eamonn Furlong got 1-1 each; Don Hyland 0-3; newcomer Seánie Kinsella 0-2; Adrian Shanahan, Joe Murphy and Ronan Keddy 0-1 each
Wicklow 1-18, Westmeath 1-15: In their second match Wicklow turned in their best display of the year to beat the reigning champions Westmeath at Arklow.
It was a great match from start to finish; the sides were level coming up to half-time when a great goal by Seánie Kinsella sent Wicklow in leading by 1-9 to 0-9 at half-time.
A fully fired-up Kinsella and Jonathan O’Neill stretched the lead with points on the restart. The midlanders cut back that lead to two points but Don Hyland, who was also having a great game kept tapping over the points.
Westmeath finally got their goal in the 63rd minute but the point of the match, if not the year gave Wicklow their three-point cushion again. A mighty line-cut from Jonathan O’Neill looked to be going wide when sub Fintan Donnolly flicked it brilliantly back across goalmouth where Don Hyland sent it over the bar with another spectacular back hander – none of the three players involved handling the ball.
It still took good defending plus a great save by Keith Barnes to give Wicklow a great victory.
Mayo 3-18, Wicklow 1-22 (After extra-time): It was all to play for when the same Wicklow team took on Mayo in the last match in Aughrim. In another ‘cracker’ Wicklow led by 0-8 to 0-7 at half-time and when Seánie Kinsella batted a Don Hyland cross to the net on the restart the home side looked to be on their way. However two goals put Mayo back in the driving seat and they were two points up at the end of the hour.
Ronan Keddy threw Wicklow a lifeline with a good point deep in injury-time and it was lion-hearted Jeffrey Bermingham that ran the length of the field to blast over the equaliser and send the game to extra-time
Mayo grabbed another goal in the first-half of extra-time and with the impressive Keith Higgins dominating around the midfield area there was no way back for a tiring Wicklow team.
Wicklow: Keith Barnes; Mark Collins, Stephen Kelly, Jeffrey Bermingham ( 0-1); Eoin O’Neill, Colm Ryan, Eamonn Kearns; Jonathan O’Neill (0-8), Ronan Keddy (03); Seánie Kinsella (1-0), Joe Murphy (0-3), Adrain Shana- han; Timmy Collins ( 0-2), Eamonn Furlong (0-1), Don Hyland (0-4). Subs. - John Connors, Denis Moran and Liam Kennedy.
JUNIOR HURLING SHIELD
Wicklow entered a team in the Leinster Junior Hurling Shield with John Mitchell and his team still in charge.
They got four marches in the league plus a walkover from Longford and finished with full points which gave them a home venue for the final against Louth.
Results: Wicklow 2-10, Louth 0-12 (at Dundalk); Wicklow 1-10, Warwickshire 0-9 (At Birmingham); Wicklow 4-24, Leitrim 0-16 ( at Aughrim); Wicklow 3-17, Down (Non Ards) 1-12 (at Ballela). Final: Wicklow 1-8; Lough 1-16 (At Aughrim)
The Team that started off against Louth was: Keith Barnes (ARP); Ciarán Doyle (Kiltegan), Peter Kiely, Colm MacEoin (Bray Emmets); Eugene Dunne (Avondale), Joe Murphy (Carnew), James Kelly (Eire Og); Shane Byrne (Avondale, Eoin Mason (Bray Emmets); John Connors (St. Pat’s), Adrian Shanahan (Bray Emmets), Fintan Donnolly (Kilcoole); Paul Gahan (Avondale), Adrian Keogh (Kiltegan), Billy Cuddihy (Eire Og). Subs. – Michael Collins (Carnew), Ed Keating (Bray Emmets), John Harper, Mark Nolan, Tony Kinsella (ARP),
In the final against Louth the team was: Clive Heffernan (Avondale); Colm MacEoin, Billy Cuddihy, Eugene Dunne; Ciarán Doyle, Seánie Kinsella, Tony Kinsella; Eoin Mason, John Connors; Adrian Shanahan, Joe Murphy, Adrian Keogh; Paul Gahan, Eamonn Furlong, Shane Byrne.
Others who played at some stage included - Christy Moorhouse (Bray Emmets), Andy O’Brien ( St. Pat’s), Ronan Keddy and Mark Collins (Carnew).
U-21 HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP
Manager Martin Barnes was squeezed between hurling and football involvement and got little chance to prepare his U-21 hurling team in the way he would have wished.
None the less they turned in a gritty performance to push Westmeath all the way in the first round of a straight knock-out championship at Kinnagad on a bitterly cold day in April.
After playing with the wind the home side did have a commanding eleven point lead at half-time – 0-14 to 0-3.
Wicklow cut back that lead point by point in the early stages of the second-half but when Westmeath struck for the first goal of the match to make it 1-15 to 0-6 it looked all over.
Wicklow refused to capitulate and Alan Driver, in the best Glenealy style drove a rasper to the net, to spark off another fightback. Wicklow’s best forward Andy O’Brien sent over a point and when George O’Brien grabbed another it left only five points between the sides.
Westmeath were clearly rattled at that stage but when Andy O’Brien was denied a goaling chance they settled again.
Even when the Lake County won a late penalty the taker Eoin Price was instructed to take his point.
The Wicklow scorers were: Andy O’Brien 0-7; Alan Driver 1-2; George O’Brien and Eoin Mason 0-1 each.
Team - Michael Collins (Carnew); Ed Keating ( Bray Emmets), Fintan Donnelly (Kilcoole), Declan Carstairs (Avondale), James Kelly (Eire Og); Brian Osborne, TJ Hen- nessy ( both Carnew); Eoin Mason (Bray Emmets), Alan Driver (Glenealy); Michael Connors (St. Pat’s), Shane Byrne (Avondale), Richard O’Hara (Carnew); Paul Sutton (Eire Og), Andy O’Brien, George O’Brien (St. Pat’s). Subs. - Seán O’Neill (Michael Dwyers), Killian Foley (Bray Emmets) and Dan Kearney (Michael Dwyers).
Minor Hurling was at a low ebb in Wicklow in 2008. Between League, Championship and Shield they played seven matches, lost all seven before withdrawing from the All Ireland B Championship
Michael Neary took charge of the team at the start of the year. His first match was away to Meath in the league. It was a match played on a dreadful morning in February where the pitch in Navan was not available and the match had to be switched to the Meath training ground in Dungarney and played on the Astro turf pitch. The boys put up a good show before losing to the home side by 48 to 1-8.
As it turned out that was to be one of their best displays of the year.
The other two matches were also played on all weather pitches in Dublin where Wicklow lost to Westmeath by 5-15 to 1-8 and to Kildare by 2-17 to 0-4.
Michael Neary stepped down just before the championship, leaving Martin Barnes to take over at short notice.
The biggest problem that faced both Michael Neary and Martin Barnes was the dual player.
A lot of the players they needed were tied up with county football squad.
Championship results: Wicklow 0-5; Kildare 2-19; Wicklow 0-0; Westmeath 922; Wicklow 2-3; Meath 3-13; Shield - Wicklow 0-5; Westmeath 4-23.
The panel for the championship was: Michael Walsh (Eire Og); Joe Driver, Declan Conyard, Shane Keogh, Alan Conyard, Rory O’Neill (Glenealy); Daniel Salmon, Dean.Healy Jack Tanner, Peter Keane Scott Smullen, Stephen O’Neill (Eire Og); Paul Nolan, TJ Hennessy, Willie.Osbourne, Michael Collins, Martin O’Brien , Pat O’Sullivan (Carnew); Keith .Byrne (Avondale); Tom Cash, Lorcan Pratt, Eamon Brazil (Bray Emmets); Paul O’Keeffe (Michael Dwyers), Daniel O.Connor, Shane.Mulford, Cormac.Green, Marty Byrne (Eire Og); Noel Doyle.
Wicklow's John Connore tries to get away from Mayo's Derek Walsh during the Christy Ring Cup quarter-final.