Sweet suc­cess for Wick­low

Bray People - - SPORT - MARK KENNEDY

A DOU­BLE scores win over arch ri­vals Car­low at any time and in any game is al­ways wel­come.

Keep­ing Wick­low’s foot­ballers in a chal­leng­ing po­si­tion for pro­mo­tion is also a good thing to main­tain in­ter­est and in­cen­tive in the re­main­der of the league.

That’s as good as it got in this divi­sion four game at Aughrim on Sun­day with Micko’s men show­ing by their patch per­for­mance that they have a lot of work still to do if they are to be bat­tle ready for the cham­pi­onship in two months time.

Car­low are also Wick­low’s op­po­nents in the Le­in­ster Cham­pi­onship opener in May and the one sav­ing grace at the mo­ment is they are in the same boat as the Gar­den County when it comes to be­ing ready for the cham­pi­onship stan­dard foot­ball.

Wick­low played a lot of sloppy foot­ball at times, were slow in mov­ing the ball for­ward, spilled a lot of pos­ses­sion to their op­po­nents and al­lowed Car­low too much space and free­dom out­field.

This put a lot of pres­sure on Wick­low’s de­fence and thank­fully they were the one sec­tion of the team that was play­ing with the spirit, pas­sion and in­ten­sity that we have come to ex­pect from the team and was re­quired at this level.

Even in the first half, when play­ing with the wind ad­van­tage, Wick­low were com­ing un­der a lot of pres­sure from their op­po­nents and Car­low could have taken an early lead had they not squan­dered two gilt edge scor­ing chances by try­ing to ‘walk’ the ball into the Wick­low net.

That’s not an easy task to achieve when you’re faced with Mervyn Travers in goal and con­fronted by a rock solid full-back line of Ciaran Hy­land, Stephen Kelly and Alan Byrne who were out­stand­ing in the work they did.

Lit­tle be­hind those three Wick­low stal­warts were the half-backs Stephen Cana­van, who started in place of Dar­ren Hay­den, Brian McGrath and Pa­trick McWal­ter, who drives at his op­po­nents at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and with courage.

Not sur­pris­ingly there­fore, it took Car­low some 20 min­utes to reg­is­ter their names on the score­sheet with a point from a free by cor­ner-for­ward Johnny Ka­vanagh, their place kicker.

Once you left de­fence, Wick­low’s prob­lems started. We showed too much re­spect and too much of the ball to Car­low who were then able to keep up the pres­sure.

Car­low’s John Mur­phy was winning an aw­ful lot of ball in mid­field and one has to re­mem­ber also that they started without their Aussie rules and U-21 star Bren­dan Mur­phy, who was be­ing rested af­ter a hard game in the U-21 cham­pi­onship against Of­faly the day be­fore.

How­ever, on two min­utes Pa­trick McWal­ter surged for­ward and played a good ball to roam­ing cor­ner-for­ward Paul Earls, who drew the free off his marker and set up the open­ing point for Seanie Fur­long.

Both teams kicked some ter­ri­ble wides be­fore Seanie Fur­long had Wick­low’s sec­ond point on 10 min­utes. And we had to wait an­other 9 min­utes for Wick­low’s third score, a point by Rath­new man and wing-back Stephen Cana­van who burst past his man af­ter tak­ing the pass from JP Dal­ton.

Af­ter 20 min­utes of patchy foot­ball the score­board read Wick­low 0-3, Car­low 0-1.

De­spite their short-comings Wick­low went on to lead by 0-7 to 0-3 at the break with points by Rory Finn, who started in place of Paul Cun­ning­ham, Leighton Glynn, Paul Earls and Ciaran Jones.

And Leighton Glynn brought a good save from Car­low keeper Michael Hen­nessy at his near post with a ground vol­ley from the right af­ter be­ing teed up for the shot by Fur­long.

With the wind at their backs in the sec­ond half, Car­low would not have felt out of the game at the half­way stage.

The fact that Wick­low took a long time in com­ing out for the sec­ond half sug­gested that the play­ers were get­ting a ‘talk­ing to’ from the Mae­stro him­self.

Car­low in­tro­duced star mid­fielder Bren­dan Mur­phy for the sec­ond half, hop­ing to push for victory.

But in­side three min­utes they suf­fered a cruel blow when wing-back Alan Cur­ran was sent off on a sec­ond yel­low. Down to 14 play­ers, Car­low backs were ef­fec­tively to the wall when they needed to cap­i­talise on the wind.

And their woes were fur­ther com­pounded six min­utes from the end when they were re­duced to 13 men with the send­ing off of cor­ner back Padraig Mur­phy, also on two yel­lows.

Still the vis­i­tors traded points with Wick­low through­out the third quar­ter, leav­ing them still just four points 0-10 to 0-6 adrift at the three quar­ter stage.

Wick­low had their best at­tack­ing spell in the fi­nal quar­ter when they fired over four unan­swered points from Seanie Fur­long, Ciaran Jones, Paul Cun­ning­ham and the roam­ing ball-car­rier Paul Earls to un­der­pin a victory that keeps their pro­mo­tion hopes very much alive.

Min­utes from the end Car­low’s Ken Doyle fielded a great high ball on the edge of the Wick­low square, swiv­elled around his marker but blazed his left foot shot wide of the posts. In a way it summed up this game for both teams.

Wick­low's Paul Cun­ning­ham bursts past Kieran Nolan of Car­low.

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