Last chance saloon
Kildare defeat puts Wicklow in relegation dogfight
WICKLOW have been propelled into a Christy Ring Cup relegation dogfight with Derry after they suffered a second half collapse against Kildare in Arklow last Saturday afternoon.
Both sides entered this latest showdown between these two counties hoping to keep their Christy Ring Cup hopes alive with the winners qualifying for a quarter-final spot while the losers would face the relegation final against Derry.
This challenge will now be all the more difficult for Martin Storey’s men after a moment of madness as the game entered injury time.
With the Wicklow men already well beaten on the score board, disaster struck for the home side following a goalmouth melee. Gavin Weir and Christy Moorehouse were both shown red cards arising out of spate incidents, while full-back Billy Cuddihy also saw red following a off the ball incident further out the field which left Wicklow finishing the game with 12 players.
These events at the death of the game were unfortunate and leave Wicklow facing an uphill battle with Derry in three weeks time.
The first half of this game was a great battle between two evenly matches teams which saw the Kildare leading by one, 0-07 to 0-06, at the break.
However, the end result saw a stronger Kildare side dominate the entire second half and they fully deserved their victory as they emerged victorious with an eightpoint winning margin to end their relegation worries and in doing so the winners they can now look forward to their quarter-final clash with London.
The teams took the field with no changes from the match day program, but there was one prominent player, Mikey Lee missing from the Wicklow panel but the Bray Emmets star was there as a spectator in the stand.
Kildare’s first attack resulted in a free which saw ace free taker Gerry Keegan score the opening point after just one minute.
A quick response saw the home side work the ball up the field following good work by Luke Maloney and Eamon Kearns which resulted in Daniel Staunton being fouled and Christy Moorehouse pointed to bring the sides level at 0-01 each after five minutes.
Both sides missed two scores each before Christy Moorehouse was fouled as he headed towards goal and he popped over his second point from placed balls to edge Wicklow in front.
From the puck out, Kildare surged forward which saw Billy Cuddihy win possession but was deemed to have thrown the ball in attempting a pass, which resulted in a Kildare free which Gerry Keegan pointed to bring the sided level on a score of 0-02 each after seven minutes.
With both defences on top and both sets of backs focused on the task that lay ahead, scorers were hard to come by. Centre-half back Mark Maloney raced up field to score a point for the Lilywhites but the home side responded and following a foul on Daniel Staunton, a long ball from Eamon Kearns floated in the danger area but the Kildare defence stood firm which resulted in a missed chance as the ball went wide.
At this stage the tempo was upped by both teams which saw some nice hurling being played with play flowing from end to end and some hard knocks being given by both sides with no questions being asked in what was a real championship game that was being in good spirit.
After some missed chances, Anto Byrne won a free around the centre of the park and Christy Moorehouse’s long shot was cleared by full-back John Doran.
Not for the first time in the game both sets of forwards were guilty of bad shooting and were also finding the going tough against two solid defences a Wicklow attack saw the in-form Daniel Staunton fouled which resulted in Christy Moorehouse bring the sides level on 0-03 each at the end of the first quarter.
The winners keep the pressure on and they went on to record two wides in row, mainly due to a solid Wicklow defence which saw Paul Divilly being shown a yellow card for dissent.
A Wicklow response saw a move involving three players and good work by Padráig Doran resulted in Paul Dermody making a good save in the Kildare goal.
Following this let off, Kildare surged forward and won a free and, not for the first time in the game, Gerry Deegan edged Kildare in front once more and were also unlucky when another shot rebounded off the post but the alert Wicklow defence cleared up field.
Padráig Doran then gave a perfect pass to John Henderson and the Bray man split the Kildare defence and won a free which Christy Moorehouse pointed to bring the sides level at 0-04 each.
It was only fitting that the top two marksmen Gerry Deegan and Christy Moorehouse should record a point each both frees to bring the sides level at 0-05 each.
The winners kept the pressure on but were denied scoring chances following good work by Stephen Kelly who outstanding playing as a sweeper.
Wicklow went in search of scores which saw Christy Moorehouse edge his side in front for the second time in the opening half with a point from play.
Kildare responded with a point from attacking half-back Sean Gainey and also were denied a goal following a rasping shot from midfielder Niall O Muineachain which produced a brilliant save from Wicklow goalkeeper Dan O’Neill, the winners finished the half with a point in injury time by Martin Fitzgerald which saw the Lilywhites with a slender lead of 0-07 to 0-06.
After the break Kildare took the game to their opponents and hit a golden spell and went on to score four points in row.
With the Wicklow defence under pressure from the slick moving Kildare forwards they were forced to foul which proved costly with ace free taker Gerry Deegan in sparking form.
The full-forward slotted two points from frees, corner-back Ross Bergin also got his name on the score sheet with a long range point which inspired centre-back Mark Maloney to race through the Wicklow defence and added another point and for good measure full-forward Gerry Deegan popped up again to land another point from a free.
Wicklow’s only response were two attacks which yielded nothing as Christy Moorehouse and Anto Byrne failed to find the target. This left the Kildare men leading on double scores, 0-12 to 0-06 at the end of the third quarter.
A Wicklow attack saw substitute Tommy Storey fouled which Christy Morehouse point the free but, not for the first time in the game, Kildare upped the tempo once more which saw them score three more through full-orward Gerry Deegan, midfielder, Niall O Muineachain and wing forward Ryan Casey.
The game saw a shoot-out between Gerry Deegan and Christy Moorehouse as they exchanged a point each which left the score reading 0-16 to 0-08.
In fairness to Wicklow, who were chasing the game following Kildare’s excellent start to the second half, they kept plugging away and saw several attacks break down which was mainly due to solid Kildare defence.
A rare Wicklow attack which was late in the game saw Eamon Kearns head for goals and the Avondale man was fouled.
The resulting free was deflected out for a 65 and Stephen Kelly pointed and this proved to be Wicklow’s last score.
One last effort from the home side saw a line ball from substitute Gavin Weir float into the Kildare goalmouth which resulted in the home side being awarded a penalty.
At this stage, following the melee, disaster struck for the home side as the three players were shown red cards.
Defeat would have been bad enough to take but this was insult to injury.
Looking forward, the team must now face into the relegation final without these players which has left the team manager and his selectors with a mighty task ahead as they regroup in the coming weeks.
Scorers – Kildare: Gerry Deegan 0-10 (8f); Mark Maloney 0-02, Sean Gainey 0-01, Martin Fitzgerald 0-01, Ross Bergin 0-01, Ryan Casey 0-01, Niall O Muineachain 0-01.
Wicklow: Christy Moorehouse 0-08 (7f), Stephen Kelly 0-01 (65).
Kildare: Paul Dermody; Ross Bergin, John Doran, Conor Gordan; Sean Gainey, Mark Maloney, Mark Grace; Martin Fitzgerald, Niall O Muineachain; Philip Cocoman, Paul Divilly, Ryan Casey; Brian Byrne, Gerry Keegan, Jack Sherdian. Subs: Leo Quinn, Paddy Mckenna, Declan O’Flaherty, Shane Ryan.
Wicklow: Dan O’Neill; Luke Maloney, Billy Cuddihy, Cathal O Dúlachain; Peter Keane, John Henderson, Martin O’Brien; Ronan Keddy, Eamon Kearns; Anto Byrne, Padráig Doran, Diarmuid Masterson; Stephen Kelly, Christy Moorehouse, Danny Staunton. Subs: Gavin Weir for Diarmuid Masterson, Tommy Storey for Padráig Doran.
Referee: Gearoid McGrath (Wexford)
Wicklow’s Danny Staunton is held in the square by Kildare’s Conor Gordon during the Christy Ring Cup clash in Pearse’s Park, Arklow. Picture: Garry O’Neill
Wicklow’s John Henderson comes under pressure from Kildare’s Mark Grace in Arklow.
Kildare’s Martin Fitzgerald and Wicklow’s Diarmuid Masterson.