Young guns get useful workout
Wicklow defeated by Drogheda
Somers 10; Doyle 28 DROGHEDA
Kelly 40; Adieynka 62; Khan 76 2 3 WITH THE Kennedy Cup beginning in just 54 days, Wicklow’s preparations continued at the Carlisle Grounds on Saturday with a friendly defeat to Drogheda.
Karl Brauner’s young guns had taken a 2-0 lead at the home of Bray Wanderers through Tom Somers and Cormac Doyle, but the visitors hit back to level through substitutes Josh Kelly and Tom Adieynka before right-back Adam Khan won it for the Boynesiders four minutes from time in spectacular fashion.
Wicklow have been drawn in Group 8 of this year’s Kennedy Cup alongside DDSL, Carlow and Limerick Desmond. The entire Wicklow squad will all be dying to be involved when they kick off their campaign against the DDSL on Monday, June 16, and many pledged fair cases to be involved on Saturday.
In the first 30 seconds, a slip from Wicklow centre half Nathan Cullen but he and his fellow defenders recovered well to smother Drogheda striker Conor McQuillan and quash the danger.
On ten minutes, it was the Drogheda defence put under the spotlight and they failed. A corner kick was swung in menacingly from the left and after the away side failed to clear their lines, winger Tom Somers punished them as he swept the ball home in ruthless fashion.
Cormac Doyle’s finish in the 28th minute was equally as lethal. Drogs goalkeeper Daire Moore played a casual pass towards a defender that Doyle intercepted. And in the blink of an eye he’d lined up and executed a brilliant bending finish that sailed into the top corner.
Wicklow shot-stopper Tom Scales was nearly caught out by visiting defender when his 45-yard free kick was caught by the wind and threatened to sneak in under the crossbar until Scales touched over.
The home side went back on the attack when midfielder Declan Breslin’s through-ball found the run of the onside Doyle. He had to twist and turn to try and escape his mark- er’s attention but despite his best efforts, he couldn’t find room for a shot.
Unfortunately for Wicklow, their two goal cushion would be halved before the break. A loose pass at the back fell kindly to Josh Kelly and lifted his volley beyond the despairing fingertips of Scales.
At half time, Drogheda introduced powerful striker Tom Adieynka and it was immediately obvious that he would be a handful for the Wicklow rearguard. It took him one minute to cause his first problem as he muscled his way through the heart of the defence but Scales and his defence did just enough to put him off.
He tore through clean on goal again on the hour mark and this time it was the outstretched legs of Scales that kept Wicklow ahead.
Wicklow then enjoyed a rare second half attack as they broke like lightning; Kian Bolger sent in a low cross and Somers turned on it before firing goalwards but a brave Drogheda defender got across to block his effort.
With 62 minutes on the clock, Adieynka finally got the goal he deserved as he steered a precise shot around the goalkeeper to leave the ball resting in the corner of the net.
And Wickow were unable to hang onto the draw. With four minutes to go, a Wicklow defender sloppily gave the ball away. Adam Khan picked it up and slalomed inside his man until he was within shooting range. It was going to take something special to beat replacement goalkeeper Eoghan O’Neill from there but he managed it by chipping a superb shot that floated into the top corner.
Brauner’s troops couldn’t muster a late reply but despite the defeat, there was plenty of encouragement for the youngsters.
After the match, they challenged Drogheda to a penalty shoot-out and showed cool heads to win 4-3. Kian Bolger, Louis O’Neill, Conor Breslin and Jack Kealy all converted their spot kicks, with Kealy netting the winning one.
WICKLOW 1. Tom Scales; 13. Jack Kealy, 3. David Kielty, 4. Nathan Cullen, 17. Jack Manley; 9. Tom Somers, 8. Conor Breslin, 6. Declan Breslin, 11. Kian Bolger; 10. Louis O’Neill; 12. Cormac Doyle.
DROGHEDA 1. Daire Moore, 2. Adam Khan, 3. Eoin McKenna, 4. Luke Byrne, 5. Stephen Doran, 6. Cian Quinn, 7. James Larsson, 8. Jamie Gickes, 9. Thomas Clarkes, 10. Conor McQuillan, 11. Jamie O’Leary.
VENUE: Carlisle Grounds
The Wicklow Kennedy Cup team who faced Drogheda in Bray last weekend. Photo: Garry O’Neill.