HURLERS HAND OUT A HIDING
CASEY O'BRIEN'S good early run in the new hurling season continued on Sunday when his experimental side beat another college team to make it through to the semi-final of this competition.
The wind was howling in over the snow capped Sugarloaf as the students from DCU squared up to the hurlers of Wicklow in this second round match in the Kehoe Cup on the Astro Turf pitch in Bray on Sunday.
The conditions were the worst that players, mentors and spectators had faced in a long time. The wind was gusting to near gale force at times and while it was blowing diagonally from corner to corner it was definitely favouring the team playing into the town goal.
DCU got off to a flying start with a goal inside a minute; the score set up by crafty Kilkenny man JJ Lennon and finished by full forward Donal Breathnach.
It was the only time in the hour that the students were gifted such an opening by an otherwise tight enough last line of defence.
They managed to hang on to the lead until wing back Geoffrey Bermingham sent a mighty drive into the wind in the 15th minute for Wicklow's third point.
Wicklow's first two points were scored by Andy O'Brien, one from a free. While the college boys took the lead once more with a point in the 25th minute, scored by Sean McGrath, one of four Dubs on the team it was their last time to show in front.
O'Brien (free) and Christy Moorhouse were the other Wicklow scorers and the sides were still level at 1-2 to 0-5 at half time.
To make their task even harder in the second half DCU had been reduced to 14 men when right half back Aidan Moran was hit with a straight red just before the break.
The college boys really had no chance when facing the wind in the second half. We had a period of stalemate at the start of that half as two reshuffled teams battled to adjust.
Then, in the ninth minute a goal by Andy O'Brien, a neat flick to a long range centre by midfielder Keddy, giving goalie Damien Gallagher no chance sent Wicklow on their way and it was really only a matter of time before the flood gates opened.
Andy had pointed another free while half time substitute Gavin Ware put his stamp on the game with a point in the 13th minute.
DCU got their only score of the second half when the accurate McGrath pointed a free in the 15th minute. The last quarter was all Wicklow.
More goals by Christy Moorehouse and flying midfielder Ronan Keddy put Wicklow into an unassailable lead. Another half time substitute Gavin Byrne got his name on the score sheet; both midfielders Ronan Keddy and Shane Byrne sent over long range points while Christy Moorhouse who had been working hard all through saw his shot find the net. Ronan Keddy put the seal on a great display when he drove home the last goal of the match.
Casey continued with his experimenting; He gave Eire Og lad Peter Keane his first start at corner back; gave Seanie Kinsella and Paul Gahan another run in the forwards and offered Glenealy teenager Gavin Weir and a newcomer from Western Gaels, Niall Toolis, a chance to show-case their skills.
In addition he continued with his bid to turn Jonathan O'Neill into a goalkeeper and Jim Connors into a leader of the attack.
'Bosco' had one super save in the first half but his biggest contribution was his clever placing of puck outs and clearances.
Again it was hard to read a lot into this win or the team performance. First of all the wind factor made it a difficult game for everyone.
Secondly Casey has key players such as Eamonn Kearns, Stephen Kelly, Graham Keogh and Joe Murphy fighting their way back from injury. When the pressure was on against the wind in the first half five players kept Wicklow in the game.
The half back line of Garry Byrne, Brian Osborne and veteran Geoffrey Bermingham along with Ronan Keddy in midfield and Andy O'Brien up front. Jim Connors stepped up his game on the 40; Christy Moorhouse was always tormenting the defence .
After that first slip up the full back line were very tight while Daniel Staunton belied his tender years with a workman like display featuring some deft touched of class hurling.
Of the other newcomers by far the most impressive was teenager Gavin Weir; his three long range points all had a definite stamp of sheer class and here’s hoping we see a lot more in the future.
The win gives Wicklow a place in the semi-final away to Meath but ironically had Armagh beaten Meath in the other quarter-final it would have given Wicklow their third home match in the competition .
Scorers - Wicklow - Andy O'Brien 1-7 (6f); Christy Moorhouse 1-3; Ronan Keddy 1-1; Gavin Ware 03; Geoffrey Bermingham, Shane Byrne and Gavin Byrne 0-1 each.
DCU scorers - Donal Breathnach 1-0; Sean McGrath 0-3 (F).
Wicklow’s Gavin Weir fires off a shot in the Kehoe Cup clash with DCU in Bray on Sunday.
Andy O’Brien cuts a path through the DCU attack.
Seanie Kinsella lets one fly.
Ronan Keddy feels the full force of this Aidan Moran challenge in the Kehoe Cup clash.
Jackie Napier is dressed for the occasion at a cold and windswept Old Conna in Bray.