Injuries costing Wicklow dear
Resurgent Carlow take scalp
WICKLOW travelled to Carlow at the weekend to take on a resurgent side that have won three games in a row.
Wicklow were already hampered by injury and lack of availability to several key players and travelled a little short on confidence having lost the opening two games of 2013.
Despite this they were determined to get things back on track ahead of next week's crucial Provincial Towns Cup game away to Skerries.
Wicklow got off to the worst possible start when from the kick off Liam Fenton went over on an ankle and had to be replaced after 30 seconds. Stuart Donohoe who played the entire game for the seconds replaced him and had a fantastic game on the flank.
Carlow started strongly and put Wicklow under some pressure. The first try of the game came 10 minutes in, when Wicklow tried to move the ball on their own 10 yard line. Carlow second row Wes Shirley intercepted the pass and scored beneath the posts. The simple conversion made it 7-0.
Wicklow fought their way back into the game and worked their way up the pitch. They got into scoring position on a number of occasions but every time they were undone by a simple mistake or by conceding a penalty. Wicklow lacked patience on a day when it was required to break down a tough Carlow defence.
Carlow soaked up the Wicklow pressure and the scored a second breakaway try just before half time. A speculative kick ahead was gathered by their speedy winger Ian Costigan who scored out wide. The conversion was missed and Carlow went in at the break with a healthy 12 - 0 lead.
Wicklow turned around with the breeze at their backs. They got off to a decent start when Ben Porter kicked a penalty to narrow the gap to 12-3. Unfortunately Carlow scored a third try shortly afterwards from a driving maul off a close in lineout. Wicklow will be deeply disappointed they failed to stop the Carlow maul before it gained momentum. The conversion made it 19-3 with 20 minutes to go and Wicklow looked dead and buried .
To their credit Wicklow finally woke up and began to play some rugby. Firstly they were awarded a penalty which Ben Porter converted to bring the score to 19-6.
Wicklow began to ruck with intensity and played it fast and loose for the final twenty minutes. They had a number of scoring opportunities but failed to get over the whitewash until the final minute when a superb Mark Higgins cross kick was gathered by Ben Mangan who beat his man to score a well taken try. The conversion from Ben Porter brought the score to 19-13.
Despite showing plenty of fighting spirit in the second half, Wicklow were very disappointed after the game.
Carlow were a far stronger side than that which Wicklow beat earlier in the season. Wicklow were missing seven first team squad members which made it very difficult in terms of strength and continuity. Despite this Wicklow felt they should have been capable of getting a result. Stuart Donohoe deserves a special mention having to come on 30 seconds into the firsts' game to replace the injured Liam Fenton. Stuart had already played a full game for the seconds and put in an outstanding tackling performance in both games.
The team needs to put the last few weeks behind them and look towards next week's fixture away to Skerries in the Provincial Towns Cup on Sunday at 2.30pm.
Skerries have apparently put together a strong team over the last few weeks with pacy backs and a good kicker.
Wicklow they know they won't have it easy in Skerries but on their day they know they are capable of beating anyone. This team needs your support on the day. Kick-off is at 2.30pm in Skerries.
Wicklow: Simon Dunne, Stephen Roberts, Paddy Jameson, Noel Greene, Ronan Monahan, Liam Fenton, Michael Doyle, Barry Hurley, Dennis Higgins, Mark Higgins, Russell Andrew, Ken Copeland, Ben Mangan, Ally Byrne, Ben Porter. Stu Donohue, Niall Doyle, Simon Norton, Karl Townsend
Ronan Monahan wins this line out ball for Wicklow against Co. Carlow at the weekend.