Wick­low de­nied share of spoils by last-gasp point

GAELIC GAMES NA­TIONAL HURL­ING LEAGUE DIVI­SION 3A

Bray People - - Bray Sport - Mark KENNEDY

Kil­dare 0-17, Wick­low 113: Wick­low’s hurlers were un­for­tu­nate not to get a draw from their open­ing na­tional league away match at Newbridge and yet at the same time lucky not to be beaten by seven points or more.

Michael ‘Titch’ Phe­lan was pleased, how­ever, with the com­mit­ment and spirit shown by his play­ers as they took Satur­day’s con­test right down to the wire be­fore be­ing cru­elly hit by a late, late Kil­dare win­ner.

In­deed Kil­dare had to come from three points be­hind in the last eight min­utes to draw level as the game en­tered in­jury-time and then Wick­low were to see a share of the league points plucked from their grasp as Paul Fitzger­ald stroked over the winning point from a free on the side­line with the last puck of the match.

In the open­ing half Wick­low had two good chances of goals to pos­si­bly steal victory but the shots of Ge­of­frey Ber­ming­ham and Eoghan Dunne brought good saves from the Kil­dare keeper Paul Der­mody.

Against that Wick­low had their goalie Ted Kennedy to thank for keep­ing them in the hunt as the Carnew man also ef­fected a num­ber of su­per stops when the Li­ly­whites threat­ened to over-run his team-mates.

Fur­ther­more Wick­low can ap­por­tion part of the rea­son for be­ing 0-7 to 0-6 in front at the break to the prof­li­gate shoot­ing of Kil­dare’s for­wards from good scor­ing po­si­tions.

How­ever, Wick­low’s hurlers started the match with a per­for­mance full of pos­i­tives and pas­sion. The mark­ing of the backs was tight; full-back Jim Con­nors had a huge game and mid­fielder Jonathan O’Neill was on song with his free-tak­ing to storm into a 0-6 to 0-2 lead in the open­ing 20 min­utes.

Jonathan O’Neill got the show on the road for Wick­low in­side 20 sec­onds when he pointed his first free and for a brief pe­riod we dared to dream of a sur­prise victory, even though Kil­dare were lin­ing out with five changes of per­son­nel in their start­ing line-out.

Tip­per­ary man David Kennedy was one of the ab­sen­tees and like Wick­low their team was largely ex­per­i­men­tal in its re­jigged for­ma­tion.

One of Wick­low’s early points came from Ge­of­frey Ber­ming­ham who lined-out in an at­tack­ing role at cen­tre-for­ward and was one of the visi- tors best for­wards on the day, scor­ing two points in all.

As the half pro­gressed sev­eral Wick­low play­ers seemed to run out of puff, al­low­ing the Li­ly­whites to gain a grip. The mark­ing by Wick­low around the cen­tre of the park was loose and David Har­ney at wing-back and Lorcan Har­ney at mid­field took ad­van­tage.

Lucky for Wick­low though, Kil­dare’s fin­ish was not al­ways on a par with their play and they posted an ex­ces­sive ten wides in the open­ing 30 min­utes. In con­trast Wick­low did not have their first wide un­til the 31st minute – it came from Christy Moore­house – and they fin­ished the half with just two wides.

In be­tween all their er­ratic shoot­ing, Paul Fitzger­ald con­stantly found the tar­get from frees, David Caf­ferty, Paul Divilly and David Har­ney from a ‘65’ popped over fur­ther points to re­duce the mar­gin to a min­i­mum at half-time – 0-6 to 0-7.

Seven min­utes into the sec­ond-half and Jonathan O’Neill got Wick­low away first again, this time point­ing a ‘65’ but it was Kil­dare who were dis­play the fire-power that Wick­low lacked in at­tack as Lorcan Har­ney, David Caf­ferty and Paul Fitzger­ald all posted points to give the home side the lead for the first time (0-9 to 0-8) af­ter 46 min­utes.

Fitzger­ald stretched that lead to two points a minute later; Paul Divilly added an­other point for the Li­ly­whites and that was the sig­nal for Wick- low to switch Ea­mon Fur­long to full-for­ward and bring on Liam Kennedy for Ro­nan Keddy.

Ge­of­frey Ber­ming­ham con­tin­ued to work his socks off for Wick­low in at­tack and he laid off the pass to his wing-back Thomas Doyle for a point on 52 min­utes.

Fitzger­ald coun­tered for Kil­dare with an­other point from a free and they led by three, 012 to 0-9 into the last 15 min­utes.

In­spired by two points from frees by Jonathan O’Neill, Wick­low stepped up their game once more.

Sub­sti­tute Liam Kennedy took full ad­van­tage of a cross­field pass from Carnew col­league Joe Mur­phy to post the equaliser and they looked to have got the rub of the green in the 62nd minute when Jonathan O’Neill failed to get ad­e­quate lift off to a free and slio­thar whizzed all the way to the left-hand, far cor­ner of Paul Der­mody’s net.

Wick­low were back in the lead, 1-12 to 0-12. Kil­dare hit back to make for a nail-bit­ing fin­ish to this game. Points by Kevin Divilly and Paul Fitzger­ald brought the sides level for the fourth time.

Eoghan Dunne, who had switched to wing-for­ward, re­stored Wick­low to the front but Paul Fitzger­ald, the scorer of ten of Kil­dare’s points, equalised from a free as the match headed to in­jury-time.

No one would have com­plained had the ref­eree blown full-time at that stage. Wick- low would have been happy with a share of the league points; it would leave them on track for a place in the divi­sion fi­nal.

How­ever, play con­tin­ued and Kil­dare won a free on the side- line to the right of goal. Paul Fitzger­ald kept a cool head as he drilled the slio­thar straight be­tween the posts for the win­ner.

The lack of suf­fi­cient scor­ing power in at­tack also con­trib­uted to Wick­low pulling up short at the fi­nal whis­tle.

Scor­ers for Kil­dare were: Paul Fitzger­ald (0-10, eight frees), Paul Divilly and David Caf­ferty (0-2 each), David Har­ney, Lorcan Har­ney and Kieran Divilly (0-1 each).

Wick­low’s scor­ers were: Jonathan O’Neill ( 1-6, five points and goal from frees); Ge­of­frey Ber­ming­ham and Joe Mur­phy ( 0-2 each), Thomas Doyle, Eoghan Dunne and Liam Kennedy (0-1 each).

Jim Con­nors tries to get to the ball ahead of Lorcan Har­ney of Kil­dare.

Wick­low’s Ro­nan Keddy on the at­tack against Kil­dare.

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