Wick­low fall just short in bid to re­tain Tommy Mur­phy Cup

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

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TOMMY MUR­PHY CUP

Dis­ap­point­ment in the camp af­ter the exit from the cham­pi­onship was such that even some of the men­tors doubted that the play­ers could be lifted in time to de­fend the Mur­phy Cup.

When Micko called his man­age­ment team to­gether in the af­ter­math of that de­feat it was de­cided that they would go for the same for­mat as in 2007 for the Mur­phy Cup

He would step aside and Arthur would take over the man­ager’s bib.

The play­ers bought into the deal and the Mur­phy Cup show was back on the road.

A good win over Water­ford – 0-18 to 0-12 – in the first round in Aughrim got the team off to the right start. John McGrath was back on the team af­ter a long lay-off; Derek Daly, Rory Nolan and Ciarán Wal­she also got start­ing po­si­tions.

Tony Hannon and Seánie Fur­long got 0-4 each; Leighton Glynn, now in the half-back line 0-3; Ciarán Wal­she 0-2; John McGrath, Dara O hAn­naidh, Derek Daly, Thomas Walsh and Rory Nolan 0-1.

The luck of the draw stayed with us and we had Leitrim at home in Aughrim in the semi-fi­nal - a good hard fought match which we won by 0-15 to 0-12. In fact that will have to go down as one of Wick­low’s bet­ter per­for­mances

Tony Hannon was the top scorer with 0-8; Leighton Glynn 0-3; Seánie Fur­long and Ciarán Wal­she 0-2.

Arthur was pleased to be lead­ing his troops back to Croke Park for an­other show­down with Antrim and an­other chance to lift the Mur­phy Cup.

How­ever, it all went wrong on the day. The de­feat in 2007 still ran­kled in Antrim hearts.

They were fired-up as never be­fore – and this time it was the men from the Glens that got the breaks.

Wick­low got off to a fly­ing start and full-for­ward Seánie Fur­long had the ball in the Antrim net in the first at­tack. Af­ter 15 min­utes the hold­ers were lead­ing by 1-5 to 0-4 and looking good. Then in the sec­ond quar­ter it all started to go wrong. A fly­ing Antrim full-for­ward line had the Wick­low de­fence stretched to the limit.

All three banged home goals in turn but com­ing up to half-time Leighton Glynn stead­ied Wick­low again with two good points to leave the half-time score – 3-6 to 1-9 – a man­age­able enough three-point deficit.

Wick­low needed early scores in the sec­ond-half but they did not come but when Tony Hannon pointed two frees the deficit was down to a sin­gle point.

Again we missed chances and it was the more hun­gry Antrim team that went on to seal victory. It was sweet re­venge for their late de­feat in ’07.

The team that lined out in the fi­nal was: Mervyn Travers (AGB), Ciarán Hy­land (AGB), Damien Power (Rath- new), Alan Byrne (An­nacurra); Rory Nolan (Balt­in­glass), Dara O hAn­naidh (Bray Em­mets), Leighton Glynn ( 0-3, Rath­new); James Stafford (Rath­new), Thomas Walsh (0-1, Bray Em­mets); John McGrath (Balt­in­glass), Tony Hannon (0-6, Hol­ly­wood); Paul Earls (0-1, St. Pat’s); Ciarán Wal­she (0-2, Balt­in­glass), Seánie Fur­long ( 1-2, Kil­te­gan), Derek Daly (Kil­te­gan). Subs. – Paddy Dal­ton (Coolkenno) for A. Byrne; Dar­ren Hay­den (Eire Og) for McGrath.

The other play­ers on the panel were: Billy Nor­man, Dean Od­lum, Pádraig Hig­gins, An­thony McLough­lin, JP Dal­ton, Seán O’Neill, Niall Gaffney, Pat O’Sul­li­van and Brian McGrath.

JU­NIOR FOOT­BALL

Kevin 0’Brien was in charge of the Ju­nior foot­ball team with Jimmy Whit­tle and Gerry Far­rell as his se­lec­tors.

The team took part in the Le­in­ster Ju­nior Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship and in the Le­in­ster Ju­nior Shield.

In the cham­pi­onship Kevin got his team off to a good start with a win over Kilkenny in Nowlan Park. The fi­nal score was Wick­low 4-9, Kilkenny 1-8.

Scor­ers: Seán O’Brien 3-1; Jonathan Daniels 1-0; Stephen Hur­ley 0-3; Colm Kenny, Garry Duffy, An­thony Fur­long, Nicky Mer­nagh, and Phillip Healy 0-1 each

In the semi-fi­nal Wick­low were beaten by Meath in Aughrim – 1-15 to 1-5.

Scor­ers: Jonathan Daniels 1-2; Dar­ren Hay­den, Phillip Healy and Ja­son Bol­ger 0-1 each.

The Wick­low team: Stephen Nolan (Ti­na­hely); Pádraig Hig­gins ( St. Pat’s), An­thony McLough­lin (Bless­ing­ton), Thomas Burke (Hol­ly­wood); Seánie O’Neill (Ballymanus), Brian Hickey (Ti­na­hely), Ja­son Bol­ger (Strat­ford); Pat Sul­li­van (Hol­ly­wood), Garry Duffy ( St. Pat’s); Stephen Hur­ley (AGB), Niall Gaffney (Bray Em­mets), Dar­ren Hay­den (Eire Og); Colm Kenny (Ti­na­hely), Seán 0’Brien (Balt­in­glass), Jonathan Daniels (Bless­ing­ton). Subs. – Brian McGrath (Kil­macud Crokes) for Hickey; Phillip Healy (AGB) for Gaffney; Ciarán Jones (Kil­bride) for Hur­ley.

Other play­ers on the panel in­cluded Ste­vie Carty (Dunlavin), Eoin Burke (Hol­ly­wood) and Alan Clarke (Rath­new).

LE­IN­STER JU­NIOR FOOT­BALL SHIELD

Wick­low played four matches in the Ju­nior Foot­ball Shield; they beat Kilkenny at Balt­in­glass – 1-13 to 0-8; lost to Kil­dare in Athy - 0-8 to 2-6 - and beat Meath in Moore­field – 1-11 to 1-10 - to qual­ify for the semi-fi­nal.

Wick­low were at home to Kil­dare in the semi-fi­nal in Avon­dale but lost by 0-10 to 1-12.

The team that played in the semi­fi­nal was: Stephen Nolan; Eoin Burke, Brian Hickey, Alan Clarke; Thomas Burke, Brian McGrath, Rory Nolan (Balt­in­glass); Brian Whe­lan (Balt­in­glass), An­thony McLough­lin; Colm Kenny, Seán O’Brien, Stephen Hur­ley; Ciarán Wal­she ( Balt­in­glass),Nicky Mer­nagh, Jonathan Daniels. Subs. – An­thony Fur­long, Ciarán Jones and Ste­vie Carty.

Oth­ers to play in the Shield in­cluded Pat Dono­hue (Kil­bride), Pat Egan (AGB), Phillip Healy; Michael Sta­ple­ton (Ballymanus); Stephen King (En­niskerry); Alan Heat­ley (Dunlavin).

U-21 FOOT­BALL CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

Phillip McGilly­cuddy was the man­ager of the U-21 foot­ball squad with Joe McDon­ald, and Michael O’Toole as se­lec­tors and Dave McBride as kit man­ager.

The work-rate of this man­age­ment team as they went through the process of sort­ing out a big panel of play­ers was colos­sal. They had tri­als and prac­tice matches all over the county, know­ing that the luck of the draw had not favoured them.

They drew the reign­ing cham­pi­ons and hot favourites Laois away in the first round so it was es­sen­tial that they get it right on the day.

In the first round match, played in Port­laoise it went bet­ter than even Phillip had hoped for. Al­though they were re­duced to 14 play­ers af­ter only seven min­utes they to­tally out­played the home side for the hour.

Af­ter lead­ing by 0-7 to 0-1 at half­time they went on to win by 1-11 to 0-3 in the end. Two big talk­ing points af­ter the match – one – when had a Laois team been held to a score of 0-3 be­fore. More to the point from a Wick­low point of view – could Phillip get young feet back on the ground in time to take on Wex­ford in the quar­ter-fi­nal?

The an­swer, as the pho­tog­ra­pher once said – was in the neg­a­tive.

The team never got go­ing with the same flu­ency in Aughrim; Wex­ford hit them with an early goal and went in lead­ing by 1-6 to 0-4 at half-time.

Wick­low did im­prove in the sec­ond-half and clawed their way back but could not break through for the goal they needed to save the day.

Team: Billy Nor­man (Eire Og); Pádraig Hig­gins (St. Pat’s), An­thony McLough­lin (Bless­ing­ton), Ro­nan Keddy (Kil­coole); Seánie O’Neill (Ballymanus), Rory Finn (Kil­te­gan), Rory Nolan (Balt­in­glass); Cathal McNi­cholas (New­town), Gavin Mur­ray (Bless­ing­ton), John McGrath (Balt­in­glass). Paddy Byrne (Ballymanus), Dar­ren Hay­den (Eire Og); Ciarán Wal­she (Balt­in­glass), Seánie Fur­long (Kil­te­gan), Donie Fitzger­ald (Ash­ford). Subs used - Mikie Browne (Bray Em­mets), Wil­lie Dil­lon (Ti­na­hely), Seán O’Brien (Balt­in­glass). Oth­ers - Seán Met­calfe (Dunlavin), Harry Mangan (Donard/Glen), Niall Gafney (Bray Em­mets), all played against Laois; Robert Mul­ryan (Hol­ly­wood), Rory Bres­lin (Bray Em­mets), Damien D’arcy (Ti­na­hely), Craig O’Neill (Kil­macanogue), Paul Ho­gan (Ti­na­hely).

MI­NOR FOOT­BALL

Hugh Kenny was ap­pointed man­ager of the Mi­nor foot­ball team with Kevin Byrne, and Jimmy Cal­laghan as his se­lec­tors.

Without any doubt no Wick­low team ever went through as search­ing a prepa­ra­tion for a cham­pi­onship. They played prac­tices in ev­ery one of the four prov­inces, and against most of the top teams.

It all looked to be pay­ing off when they beat a fan­cied Of­faly team by a ten-point mar­gin – 3-11 to 1-7 – in the open­ing round in Aughrim.

The Wick­low boys were on fire that day; Paul Cun­ning­ham and Dean Siney ran through the Of­faly de­fence in the first-half, lash­ing in 37 to give Wick­low a lead of 3-7 to 13 at half-time.

While they slack­ened off in the sec­ond-half they still held on to that ten-point ad­van­tage to the end.

Just like the U-21side this team were un­able to find the same form when they took on Wex­ford in the sec­ond round at Aughrim. And again the game took on the same pat­tern.

Wex­ford lashed home an early goal and then held on to that ad­van­tage to the end – winning by 1-8 to 0-8.

Team: Michael Carey (AGB); Conor Power (Bray Em­mets), Lorcan Smullen (St. Pat’s), Paul McLough­lin (Bless­ing­ton); Mark Kenny (Ballymanus), Robert Lam­bert ( Aughrim), Conor Fo­ley (Balt­in­glass); Jor­dan Egan (Bray Em­mets), Brian Walsh (Ti­na­hely); Steven Dil­lon (Ti­na­hely), Kevin Mur­phy (Balt­in­glass), PJ Mul­hall (Cool­boy); Colum Row­den (Bal­li­na­cor), Paul Cun­ning­han (Bray Em­mets), Dean Siney (Bless­ing­ton). Subs used – Niall Cur­ran (Donard/Glen), Ger Byrne (Bal­li­na­cor), Cur­tis Geraghty (Bless­ing­ton), Oisin Doyle (Aughrim), Joe Glen­non (Hol­ly­wood). Niall Earls (St. Pat’s). Oth­ers - James Byrne (Bal­li­na­cor); Der­mot Daly (Donard/Glen), Wil­lie Doyle (Coolkenno), Mark Rigley (Dunlavin), Alan Kelly (Bless­ing­ton).

Wick­low’s Ciarán Walsh is tack­led by Justin Crozier of Antrim dur­ing the Tommy Mur­phy Cup fi­nal.

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