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

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.

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