Bad day at the of­fice

Wick­low slump to heavy de­feat at the hands of Meath

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - SPORT - KEVIN STAPLETON at Pairc Tail­teann, Na­van

WICK­LOW fell to a heavy de­feat away to Meath in Na­van last Sun­day to end their O’Byrne Cup cam­paign for 2018. Sport­ing a num­ber of changes from the start­ing 15 from the pre­vi­ous week’s clash with Car­low, the Gar­den County side were se­cond best through­out the en­counter apart from a short spell in the open­ing ten min­utes where they threat­ened the Meath de­fence.

Graham Reilly pointed with only 22 sec­onds on the clock and the home side dou­bled their tally from the re­sult­ing kick out when the ball was worked to cor­ner-for­ward Sean Tobin to fire over.

Seanie Fur­long pointed bril­liantly in the third minute be­fore Gearoid Mur­phy re­stored par­ity with a fine free from dis­tance.

How­ever, this would be the last Wick­low score for over a quar­ter of an hour with their hosts caus­ing plenty of dam­age with their over­laps and their dom­i­nance in mid­field shown in a six to one mark count and a large kick out won ra­tio favour­ing the hosts.

Mark McCabe and Adam Flana­gan added quick scores for Meath in the 8th minute be­fore the first cru­cial blow was dealt Wick­low’s way in the 15th minute. The Wick­low de­fence were left ex­posed with the will­ing run­ners from deep and one such run re­sulted in a block which fell into the path of David Toner who fired home low from the edge of the square.

Full-for­ward Donal Leni­han pointed a free mo­ments later be­fore he pow­ered a thun­der­ous ef­fort into the roof of the Wick­low net with 22 min­utes on the clock to open a nine-point cush­ion. The in­dus­tri­ous Dean Healy was full of run­ning all game and he pointed a fan­tas­tic score for him­self to end the drought but Graham Reilly added two more frees for a Meath side who were find­ing the tar­get much eas­ier.

A snap­shot from Padraig O’Toole al­most brought a glim­mer of hope to Wick­low but it was de­nied by David Gal­lagher in the Meath goal.

Leni­han, David Toner and Paddy Fen­nelly all tacked on scores for Meath com­ing into half time with Wick­low adding two scores through the boot of Gearoid Mur­phy who im­pressed from the placed ball. The half-time score read a dis­ap­point­ing Meath 2-10 to Wick­low’s 0-5.

A raft of changes oc­curred at half-time with more new faces be­ing in­tro­duced to in­ter-county foot­ball. Three Wick­low frees and a fan­tas­tic score from Dean Healy again were Matched by four points of Meath’s.

A cou­ple of in­de­ci­sive er­rors cost Wick­low dur­ing this pe­riod with a free for a pick up off the ground and a turnover of pos­ses­sion from a quick free be­ing pun­ished by a clin­i­cal Royal out­fit. Young Avon­dale de­fender Saoirse Kearnon was in­tro­duced into the ac­tion in the se­cond pe­riod and he gave Wick­low sup­port­ers a glimpse of his abil­ity with a won­der­ful in­ter­cep­tion in front of the Wick­low dug out and a tiger­ish dis­play in de­fence and Dar­ragh Fitzger­ald was con­stantly look­ing to work the ball for­ward from wing back.

Theo Smith started in the num­ber 10 jer­sey and found him­self on a lot of pos­ses­sion, Seanie Fur­long prob­a­bly won his bat­tle with his Meath coun­ter­part but lacked sup­port when he needed it while Dean Healy was the pick of the Wick­low play­ers on dis­play.

For the open­ing 20 min­utes of the se­cond half, Wick­low im­proved im­mensely and com­peted very well. Man­ager John Evans stated on Sun­day Sport on Ra­dio 1 his sat­is­fac­tion at the per­for­mance in this pe­riod ex­cept for a brief pe­riod where Meath rat­tled off 2-1 in 90 sec­onds.

Firstly, a drop­ping ball just out­side the cor­ner of the square was not dealt with by Wick­low and the ball dropped down to Mark McCabe who fired past Jack­son into the net.

Mo­ments later, Wick­low were left ex­posed from the kick out and a three on one sit­u­a­tion al­lowed Joey Wal­lace to can­ter into the open goal area and palm in a squared pass from a Meath col­league.

McCabe added Meath’s fi­nal point mo­ments later as the Royal County kicked an im­pres­sive 23 scores with only seven wides over the course of 70 min­utes.

Wick­low’s fi­nal scores came from Gearoid Mur­phy’s free and Eire Óg’s Daniel Keane who also added a spark to the at­tack with his pace when in­tro­duced.

Wick­low were left to lick their wounds as they head into the league cam­paign in a cou­ple of weeks with a home fix­ture against Water­ford on Sun­day 28th of this month.

A lot of new play­ers were tested out over the course of these two fix­tures so hope­fully Wick­low will hit the ground run­ning with an open­ing win.

STA­TIS­TICS

(First half in brack­ets) Own kick outs won: Wick­low 16 (8) Meath 14 (5) Own Kick outs Lost: Wick­low 15 (9) Meath 3 (1) Marks: Wick­low 1 Meath 6 (3) Scores Con­verted: Wick­low 13/17 Meath 23/32 Saves: Wick­low 2 (1) Meath 1 (1) Wides: Wick­low 4 (1) Meath 7 (4) Breaks Won: Wick­low 16 (5) Meath 15 (10) Turnovers: Wick­low 18 (8) Meath 24 (13) Frees: Wick­low 27 (11) Meath 20 (10) Goal Chances: Wick­low 2 (1) Meath 7 (4) Scor­ers - Wick­low: Gearoid Mur­phy (0-6 frees), Seanie Fur­long (0-4, 3frees), Dean Healy (0-2) and Dan Keane (0-1)

Meath: Joey Wal­lace, Mark McCabe (1-2), Donal Leni­han (1-2, 2 frees), Sean Tobin (0-4, 2 frees), David Toner (1-1), Graham Reilly (0-3), Paddy Fen­nelly (0-2), Adam Flana­gan, Bryan Men­ton, Shane McEn­tee (0-1) each

Wick­low: Robert Lam­bert, Ciaran Hy­land, Harry Wilson, Eoin Murtagh, Dar­ragh Fitzger­ald, Dean Healy, Jamie Snell, Kevin Mur­phy, Rory Finn, Theo Smyth, Mark Kenny, Padraig O’Toole, Gearoid Mur­phy, Seanie Fur­long and Conor Byrne. Subs: Bren­dan Kennedy for Murtagh, Dan Keane for O’Toole, Conor French for Byrne, Mark Jack­son for Lam­bert, Saoirse Kearnon for Wilson, PJ O’Keefe for Kenny, Gavin Murray for K Mur­phy, Dan Kelly for G Mur­phy, Conor Healy for Snell, G Mur­phy for D Keane (Blood)

Meath: David Gal­lagher, Shane Glynn, Luke Mo­ran, Mickey Burke, Donal Keogan, Brian Con­lon, Alan Dou­glas, Adam Flana­gan, Harry Rooney, Mark McCabe, David Toner, Graham Reilly, Sean Tobin, Donal Leni­han, Paddy Fen­nelly. Subs Used: Bryan Men­ton for Toner (blood), Daragh Grif­fin for Reilly, Liam Fer­gu­son for Burke, Bryan Men­ton for Flana­gan, Shane McEn­tee for Rooney, Joey Wal­lace for Leni­han, Conor Dempsey for Con­lon, Eoghan Greene for Glynn, Conor McGill for Dempsey (black card)

Ref­eree: Stephen Mur­phy

The Wick­low team who played against Car­low in Bray. A reshuf­fled pack fell heav­ily to Meath in Na­van.s

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