Hen­der­son switch had huge bear­ing

Bray People - - SPORT -

SEA­MUS MUR­PHY’S charges emerged vic­to­ri­ous from this en­ter­tain­ing Al­lianz NHL Divi­sion 2B fix­ture at Joule Park Aughrim against an im­pres­sive Mayo out­fit.

A non play­ing in­jury to Danny Staunton forced Wick­low into one change prior to throw in with Wayne Kin­sella tak­ing up the mid­field du­ties in his ab­sence.

Op­er­at­ing into a gen­er­ous breeze in the first half, Wick­low were first to reg­is­ter on the score­board with a fine point from Pádraig Doyle af­ter good work from club­mate John Hen­der­son.

Mayo re­sponded quickly with a Padraig Hickey strike, who, wear­ing 11, was op­er­at­ing at the edge of the square.

The sides were to be level on three oc­ca­sions in the open­ing quar­ter with Kenny Feeney for Mayo hugely in­flu­en­tial at cen­tre-for­ward.

Mayo hit the as­cen­dency with 13 min­utes gone and led 0-05 to 0-03 with Feeney look­ing to have the free­dom of Aughrim and Wick­low strug­gling to shadow him as he de­ployed him­self into a deep cen­tre-for­ward role and di­rected pro­ceed­ings from there.

Brian Hunt helped him­self to a sub­lime score from cor­ner-back, rac­ing up field and slot­ting over, and when Feeney con­verted from play, Mayo were look­ing ev­ery bit the in­form team.

Wick­low strug­gled to get to the pace of the game. Mayo’s hurl­ing looked sharper, their touch was bet­ter and their ball ruck­ing was pro­vid­ing key pri­mary pos­ses­sion.

Andy O’Brien looked starved of pos­ses­sion but when moved to left half for­ward he slowly be­gan to in­flu­ence the game.

Anto Byrne split the posts from the new stand side to reg­is­ter a first white flag in 11 min­utes for the home side.

O’Brien then won a free from noth­ing and Christy Moore­house duly con­verted. It now stood 0-08 to 0-05 and when Gerry Con­nors struck with a lovely score over his shoul­der, Wick­low were back in things af­ter 26 min­utes trail­ing by just two points.

Feeney then be­gan to as­sert his prow­ess on the game with a sweet strike af­ter good work by Mayo cap­tain Cathal Free­man.

The Toureen club­man then set up both Hickey and Joseph McManus for points as Mayo ex­tended their lead to four points with half-time loom­ing.

With 36 min­utes on the clock, Padraig Hickey col­lected a delivery from the Mayo de­fence and charged for­ward, pass­ing ex­pertly to Feeney who found McManus with a cheeky hand pass over his shoul­der and McManus crashed the ball to the net leav­ing Mayo well in con­trol.

Andy O’Brien an­swered from play to close the open­ing stanza. Half-time score 1-11 to 0–08 to the Con­naught men.

Sea­mus Mur­phy rang the changes at half-time and Stephen Kelly ap­peared at left half-back in what was a wel­come and timely re­turn to the hurlers.

John Hen­der­son started at cen­tre-back with War­ren Ka­vanagh mov­ing to wing back and Ea­monn Kearns to mid­field and im­me­di­ately Wick­low looked a stronger out­fit.

Over the next 35 min­utes Hen­der­son put in a tour de force per­for­mance at six, curb­ing Feeney and launch­ing sev­eral Wick­low at­tacks.

Mclough­lin pushed Mayo a fur­ther point clear on the res­tart but that was as good as it got for the Mayo men as Pádraig Doyle pow­ered down the wing and fin­ished with a su­perb point which was the cat­a­lyst for the Wick­low re­vival.

Anto Byrne and Feeney ex­hanged points and Andy O’Brien con­verted from play to leave five be­tween them with 45 min­utes gone.

Within three min­utes that gap was three points and Wick­low caught fire.

Their in­ten­sity and tena­cious tack­ling took hold and Ka­vanagh and Hen­der­son were roar­ing into the fray with clear­ance af­ter clear­ance.

An ex­change of points left the score 1–15 to 0–15 with Ro­nan Keddy and Moore­house adding to the Wick­low tally.

Jamie Byrne en­tered with 52 min­utes on the clock and cer­tainly made an im­pact.

The game was now at its pitch and Mayo found them­selves bear­ing down on goal only for Martin O‘Brien to make a tremen­dous tackle in front of the Wick­low goal.

Min­utes later Jamie Byrne lay on a pass to the hand of Doyle, who was bot­tled up but the ball spilled out to Ge­orge O’Brien who fin­ished to the Mayo net; All square in Aughrim.

Two min­utes later a long Ka­vanagh clear­ance from the heart of the Wick­low de­fence re­bounded off the up­right and Pádraig Doyle was on hand to burst the Mayo net and put Wick­low in front for the first time since the open­ing 10 min­utes, ex­pert cor­ner-for­ward play from Doyle.

The sparse at­ten­dance were treated to a fran­tic fi­nal few min­utes as Mayo sought a goal to

sal­vage their jour­ney.

The Wick­low de­fence stood res­o­lute and when Christy Moore­house won a throw ball and took off in front of the new stand his sub­lime left handed pass to Andy O’Brien, who was fouled, rounded off a stir­ring sec­ond half per­for­mance. Moore­house con­verted and ref­eree Gavin Quilty halted pro­ceed­ings as Wick­low se­cured two vi­tal league points.

Fi­nal score: Wick­low 2–17, Mayo 1-17.

Wick­low’s Pádraig Doyle flies above Mayo’s Cathal Free­man.

Mayo’s Kenny Feeney is chal­lenged by Wick­low’s Martin O’Brien.

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