WICK­LOW BOW OUT

Draw with Wex­ford not enough for Gar­den lads

Bray People - - SPORT - JAMES NOLAN At Bridge­wa­ter Cen­tre Park

A PLACE in the All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal was up for grabs when Wick­low's U-16 county squad played host to Wex­ford school­boys in Bridge­wa­ter Cen­tre Park. Wick­low knew their fate was not in their own hands as NEC only had to match Wick­low's re­sult when they took on Kil­dare to go through, as NEC have a su­pe­rior goal dif­fer­ence.

A draw would be enough to see Wex­ford ad­vance to the semis and the ma­roon and yel­low's man­aged to get that re­sult.

Wex­ford won the only pre­vi­ous en­counter be­tween the two sides this sea­son with a 3-0 home win over their northerly neigh­bours.

The game started off with a lot of early pres­sure be­ing ap­plied by the vis­i­tors. Wex­ford's Sean Duffy forced Conor Clack into two good saves in­side the first seven min­utes of the game. Wex­ford had a lot of pos­ses­sion in­side the WDSL half with­out cre­at­ing many clear cut chances, this was a com­mon pat­tern for much of the match.

De­spite Wex­ford's dom­i­nance in pos­ses­sion it was Wick­low who took the lead. In the 14th minute Justin House headed his Cool­boy and county team mate Adam Barnes through on goal, Barnes fired his shot past the keeper and into the top right hand cor­ner to make it 1-0. Six min­utes later Barnes con­tin­ued to give the Wex­ford de­fence grief when he made a dart­ing run down the right and played a ball into the penalty area but Adam Rochford was un­able to con­vert.

Wick­low keeper Conor Clack con­tin­ued to im­press when he went full stretch to knock Ivan Mee­gan's ef­fort from a free kick over. Wick­low's de­fence were putting in a steady per­for­mance but their re­sis­tance was fi­nally bro­ken five min­utes be­fore the break. This fol­lowed the odd sub­sti­tu­tion of Hugh Humby who was putting in a de­cent shift, did this knock Wick­low out of their rhythm? Ivan Mee­gan whipped in a cor­ner from the right and John Dunne man­aged to meet the ball with his head and level the game at one each.

Wex­ford dou­bled their tally in stop­page time of the first half. Ivan Mee­gan picked up the ball on the right, curl­ing a left footed shot over the keeper and into the far top cor­ner, a peach of a fin­ish to close out the half. The half time score line was 2-1 to Wex­ford School­boys. The com­plex­ion of Jim Barnes and Brian Ka­vanagh's half time team talk would have changed com­pletely fol­low­ing the fi­nal five min­utes of the half.

The sec­ond pe­riod be­gan with Wex­ford look­ing to snatch a third and hand Wick­low an up­hill task. Jack Gaynord slipped through Niall Keys who rat­tled the post with a rocket of an ef­fort. In the 50th minute Adam Barnes had a chance to level it for Wick­low but his at­tempt from a failed clear­ance was saved by Jordan Betts.

Fif­teen min­utes later saw ref­eree Jim Forde make a big de­ci­sion by award­ing Wick­low a penalty af­ter Colin O'Toole was brought down in the box. The Wex­ford play­ers and side­line protested the deci- sion but the judge­ment was in­deed cor­rect. Skip­per Adam Barnes stepped up to take the kick, send­ing the keeper the wrong way to make it 2-2 and to dou­ble his and Wick­low's goal tally.

Wex­ford nearly struck back im­me­di­ately with Lee Cullen fir­ing his shot just wide. WDSL went in search of a win­ner in the fi­nal fif­teen min­utes. A move in­volv­ing Justin House and Colin O'Toole ended with Adam Rochford shoot­ing wide. Colin O'Toole con­tin­ued to be a nui­sance, cut­ting in from the left and let­ting fly. Goal­keeper, Betts was equal to O'Toole's ef­fort.

The full time whis­tle sounded with the score two a piece and the points shared. This re­sult sees Wex­ford School­boys ad­vance as the group win­ners on 13 points. The draw means Wick­low exit the com­pe­ti­tion as NEC man­aged to com­pre­hen­sively de­feat Kil­dare by six goals to one to go through as run­ners up in the group on 12 points, two clear of WDSL. In­ter­est­ingly enough NEC will face Wex­ford in the semi-fi­nals.

Even though Wick­low exit the com­pe­ti­tion, a draw was a good re­sult against a strong Wex­ford side that play a very easy on the eye style of foot­ball.

WDSL 1. Conor Clack, 2. Adam Doyle, 3. Sean Mul­li­gan, 4. Eoin Forsyth, 5. Jordan Mur­ray, 6. Hugh Humby, 7. Oisin McGlaugh­lin, 8. Dar­ren Daly, 9. Adam Rochford, 10. Adam Barnes, 11. Justin House

SUBS: 12. Ryan Hef­fer­nan (for McGlaugh­lin, 72 mins), 13. Colin O'Toole (for Humby, 34 mins), 14. Jamie Power, 15. Oisin Daunt Smyth, 16. To­mas McDon­ald (for Rochford, 80 mins), 17.Cian Con­dron, 18. Liam O'Brien

WEX­FORD SCHOOL­BOYS 1. Jordan Betts, 2. Lee Busher, 3. Conor Nolan, 4. Martin O'Con­nor, 5. Ryan Byrne, 6. Lee Cullen, 7. Jack Gaynord, 8. John Dunne, 9. Sean Duffy, 10. Niall Keys, 11. Ivan Mee­gan SUBS: 12. James Costel­loe, 13. Matthew Cre­ane, 14. Lee Con­roy (for Gaynord, 58 mins), 15. Daniel Mur­phy, 16. Michael O'Rourke, 18. Ja­son McGuire VENUE: Bridge­wa­ter Cen­tre Park REF­EREE: Jim Forde

The Wick­low team who were edged out of an All-Ire­land semi-fi­nal spot de­spite draw­ing with Wex­ford at the weekend.

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