Wick­low’s class shines through as they edge past Wex­ford

Bray People - - Sports -

Wick­low 3, Wex­ford 2: Last year’s beaten All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal­ists Wick­low started this SFAI U-16 Paul O’Neill Cup clash with Wex­ford in Lam­ber­ton, Ark­low, as favourites hav­ing al­ready de­feated Car­low away in their open­ing fix­ture.

U-16 S.F.A.I. CUP A de­fen­sive er­ror in the very first minute saw Wex­ford striker Robert Dempsey clean through on goal but he spurned the chance to score, putting his ef­fort the wrong side of the post.

Less than two min­utes later the Wex­ford side were to re­gret that missed op­por­tu­nity as Ir­ish in­ter­na­tional Aaron Barry set Dara Ver­ney racing through the vis­i­tor’s de­fence to put Wick­low ahead, his low ef­fort beat­ing keeper Owen Healy.

The home side gained the up­per hand and al­most dou­bled their lead with a Keith Arm­strong ef­fort from dis­tance graz­ing the upright. Wex­ford ap­plied a more di­rect ap­proach to their game with a se­ries of long balls and al­most lev­elled in the 18th minute through Ger O’Keefe.

O’Keefe evaded the home de­fend­ers but quick think­ing from Wick­low keeper Cor­mac O’Brien thwarted the Wex­ford at­tacker, with the net­min­der in­jured in the process. Three min­utes later though, Wex­ford lev­elled.

A cor­ner from the left was hit deep and the Wex­ford num­ber two rose high­est to firmly di­rect home. The sides were level for no more than five min­utes how­ever, with Wick­low re­spond­ing through Dara Ver­ney’s aware­ness, a weighted through ball for striker Jack Tim Mur­phy and the Wick­low for­ward held off his marker to fire past Healy in the Wex­ford goal.

Wick­low be­gan the sec­ond-half on top, with some lovely pas­sages of play though their ef­forts on goal were all off tar­get. Ir­ish in­ter­na­tional Shane Mur­ray, nom­i­nated for the FAI U-16 player of the year award, went close from a free-kick, his ef­fort inches wide.

He fol­lowed that ef­fort with a vol­ley that smashed off a post, as Wick­low pushed hard to score a third. Credit though to Wex­ford, lev­el­ling a sec­ond time af­ter sub­sti­tute Wick­low keeper Ja­son Earls could only parry a Wex­ford strike with the vis­i­tor’s cen­tre half first to re­act to the loose ball.

Wick­low con­tin­ued to press and went ahead for the third time in the 65th minute. Clive Cram­mond found sub­sti­tute Mark Hardy in space and Hardy kept his nerve fir­ing home from twelve yards. Hardy went close to adding a fourth Wick­low goal, his headed ef­fort go­ing nar­rowly over the bar af­ter ex­cel­lent work from Aaron Barry.

Wick­low man­ager Brian Byrne was nat­u­rally de­lighted with the out­come, say­ing, ‘our class told in the end but Wex­ford put up a gal­lant per­for­mance’.

He added, ‘We scored some great in­di­vid­ual goals but con­ceded through poor de­fen­sive work. We have been se­ri­ously hit with in­juries re­cently so to get a re­sult un­der the cir­cum­stances was good.

‘Both Shane Mur­ray and Jack Tim Mur­phy to­day showed the qual­ity that is needed to win tight games.’

The Wick­low team that de­feated Wex­ford 3-2 in a S.F.A.I. U-16 Paul O'Neill Cup clash, played at Ark­low re­cently.

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