Wick­low march on with a nar­row win over Mullingar

Bray People - - GENERAL SPORT -

WICK­LOW’S FIRST team con­tin­ued their run in the New­stalk Pro­vin­cial Towns Cup with a hard-fought sec­ond round win away to Mullingar on Sun­day.

Wick­low played into the light breeze in the first half and started well. They moved the ball wide at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and were close to scor­ing on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions. On each oc­ca­sion a knock on or a loose pass forced the turnover and al­lowed the Mid­lan­ders to clear down the pitch.

Mullingar were well up for the battle and had a strong kick­ing game which pinned Wick­low back into their half. Wick­low worked their way back up field through a fine break by Daniel Man­nion. The ball was moved left and then right but Wick­low just couldn't make the break­through and the ball was even­tu­ally turned over by some strong Mullingar counter-ruck­ing and cleared to safety.

A knock on from a long clear­ance kick al­lowed Mullingar to gain a rare foothold in Wick­low ter­ri­tory and they were duly re­warded when Wick­low con­ceded a penalty in front of the posts. The kick went over and Mullingar led 3-0.

Wick­low bounced back al­most im­me­di­ately and were soon on the score­board af­ter be­ing held up over the line on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions the ref­eree awarded Wick­low a penalty which Barry Lynn suc­cess­fully con­verted to level the scores at three points apiece.

A huge kick through by Stephen Duffy was thrown into touch by the Mullingar de­fender. The re­sul­tant penalty kick was con­verted by Barry Lynn and Wick­low led 6-3 at the break.

A very nervy start to the sec­ond half saw Wick­low com­mit a num­ber of er­rors, which al­lowed Mullingar a foothold in Wick­low ter­ri­tory. They were awarded a penalty in­side their own half which was moved for­ward ten me­tres be­cause of some un­nec­es­sary back chat. This brought the kick into range and could have cost Wick­low the match af­ter a su­perb kick which bounced onto the cross­bar and over to bring the sides level at 6-6.

Wick­low didn't panic and worked their way back into op­po­si­tion ter­ri­tory. Barry Lynn missed a 35 me­tre penalty with 20 min­utes to go. Ten min­utes later he landed a fan­tas­tic kick to give the lead back to Wick­low who led 9-6 with ten min­utes to go.

Mullingar weren’t fin­ished and launched a se­ries of at­tacks.

To Wick­low’s credit they de­fended well and a par­tially blocked drop goal at­tempt was as close as the home side came to scor­ing. Wick­low cleared their lines and closed out the game much to the re­lief of their trav­el­ling sup­port­ers.

This wasn't the best per­for­mance Wick­low have pro­duced this year but they will be glad to have won a place in the quar­ter­fi­nals of this his­toric competition. There were eight sec­ond round games played and only two games pro­duced an away win­ner which shows how dif­fi­cult it is to win away from home in the towns cup.

The quar­ter-fi­nal draw sees Wick­low take on South East ri­vals Tul­low at home on April 3rd. Tul­low have been in a rich vein of form in re­cent weeks and ham­mered Long­ford by 53-10 on Sun­day in the cup. They have also beaten Wick­low in Ash­town Lane this year in the league. It will be a huge chal­lenge for Wick­low to win a place in the semi-fi­nals for only the third time in their his- tory. If they play to their po­ten­tial they have the abil­ity to do it.

Bizarrely next Sun­day sees Wick­low firsts and sec­onds travel away to Tul­low for the fi­nal league game of the year. Kick-off is at 1.30 and 3 p.m.

Wick­low: T O'Dono­van, S O'Brien, Si­mon Nor­ton, J Jenk­in­son, R Mon­a­han, L Fen­ton, D Man­nion B Hur­ley, A Byrne, Stephen Duffy, C Sillery S Breen, Barry Lynn, Jack Dunne, Rus­sel Andrew. Subs: R Nolan, S Byrne, P Jame­son, Brian Byrne, David Quinn.

Wick­low’s Daniel Man­nion bursts for­ward against Mullingar.

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