Wicklow reach tournament final
Draw with Wexford is enough
A BELOW PAR performance by Wicklow's U-21 football team in their final match in the league section of this tournament, played at Tinryland on Tuesday night.
In fact it took a late point by substitute Daniel Keane, an up and coming Eire Og star, to get us a draw.
However that draw proved enough to send us through to a place in the Cup final against table toppers Kildare.
Joint manager Damien Byrne pointed out that we entered this tournament to get match practice, not to win medals and what the result means most of all is that a young and raw team will get another competitive match before facing the winners of the Laois v Offaly in the Leinster championship.
We can read very little into this result other than the fact that it appeared to indicate that this is a very well balanced competition with little or nothing separating the sides.
Wexford also played a draw with Carlow the week before. However we must record that Wexford had to field an much under strength team as one can given that a car carrying five players broke down on the way and that five only joined the fray in the second half.
In hindsight the confusion before the match about whether Wexford could field a team may have affected the Wicklow team most.
They never got off the ground at all in the first quarter and gave Wexford the freedom of the pitch.
The Model County lads led be 0-6 to 0-1 at one stage and could have been further ahead. An opportunist goal by Shane O'Rourke in the 24th minute lifted Wicklow a little and left them just two points behind at the break - 1-2 to 0-7.
It was only when Wexford were up to full strength in the second half that Wicklow started to produce the form their supporters expected.
An early goal by overlapping wing back Daniel Woods put Wicklow in front early in the second half and points by P.J.0'Keeffe, Brendan McCrea (free) and Eoin Devlin stretched the lead.
Wexford took over entering the last quarter and clawed back the deficit point by point. A goal by corner forward Robert Dempsey in the 53rd minute restored their lead.
Wicklow rallied again in the closing five minutes but missed a couple of chances of points. With minutes to go super sub Daniel Keane sent over the equaliser from play and Wicklow held on for the draw they need- ed to put them through to the final.
Kildare finished on six points; Wicklow on three; Wexford on two and Carlow on one.
Kildare and Wicklow meet in the Cup final which was fixed for last night (Tuesday) in Tinryland while Wexford and Carlow play off for the Shield.
Wicklow’s Martin O’Brien plucks one out of the night sky in the U-21 clash with Wexford in Tinryland.
Paddy O’Rourke breaks forward for Wicklow.