League hopes end
Wicklow finish in third despite decent win over Derry
WICKLOW left it all too late and all too difficult in their attempt to qualify for the league final and go one step further than last year.
To qualify they had to beat Derry well and hope that other results went their way, namely Mayo beating Down and Donegal getting the upper hand on Armagh. Donegal held up their side of the bargain, but Down’s victory over Mayo qualified both for the league final.
It was a scrappy affair that never really ignited. Wicklow chugged their way into an eight-point lead midway through the second half and then appeared to shift down the gears and coast to the end of the match. They very nearly got caught.
Derry were the quickest from the start line and led by five points to two after 11 minutes. They attempted to find Cormac O’Doherty in that opening quarter and he hit two points along with setting teammate Colm Murphy for a third. Gradually Stephen Kelly managed to offset his influence though while his teammates out the field got a foothold in the game.
Once Wicklow withstood that early onslaught they gathered some speed and scored 1-04 without reply in the next eighteen minutes, along with creating numerous goal chances.
The first goal chance was blocked out for a converted 65 by Andy O’Brien before George O’Brien scored a quickfire 1-01. Emmet Byrne won back possession on the end line and found John Connors in space whose long ball landed in O’Brien’s hand. He skipped past a defender and hit the back of the net.
The two O’Briens added another point each and Wicklow had taken control of the game.
Midfielder Mark McGuigan stopped the bleeding for Derry with a lovely score from an acute angle inside the 21 metre line. Alan Grant scored another free to keep Derry in the game until a few moments before half time Andy O’Brien worked his way in towards goal and kicked the ball past Kirkpatrick.
The teams traded a couple of scores late in the half and Wicklow went in at half time leading by six points, 2-08 to 0-08.
Once again Derry started the second half the better team, Grant got his first from play and centre forward Meehaul McGrath muscled his way past a few tacklers to hit the back of the net. Wicklow pleaded for a free out but referee Peter Burke didn’t see it that way.
Wicklow responded well however and hit 1-02 within three minutes to create a seven point lead. First John Connors scored two from play before Andy O’Brien got his second goal when he won a long ball from Warren Kavanagh, with a little help from Seanie Germaine, and hit the back of the net.
Derry were then handed a lifeline with the dismissal of Padraig Doyle for an off the ball incident with Meehaul McGrath who went down in a heap screaming at the linesman. Doyle was perplexed with the decision.
That gave Derry lots of possession and space which they exploited though Andy O’Brien did get the next score of the game for Wicklow after a nice pass from Ronan Keddy.
Goalkeeper Michael Kirkpatrick was able to find a teammate with his puck outs and Derry created lots of space in the Wicklow half. Brendan Quigley, Grant and Naoise Waldron profited from this with a point each.
This brought Derry to within five points and Aodhan O’Donnell’s goal following a mistake by Robert Fitzgerald made it a two-point game.
Derry couldn’t get any closer however, not scoring for the final ten minutes as they lobbed high balls in around the Wicklow square for a consolation goal.
Wicklow’s defence wasn’t breached however and John Connors with a couple of frees and a Ronan Keddy point from play saw Wicklow cross the line first, five-point winners.
Derry now face a relegation battle with Armagh while Wicklow won’t play again until the first round of the Christy Ring Cup in May.
Scorers – Wicklow: Andy O’Brien (1 65, 1f) 2-04; Gerry O’Brien 1-03; John Connors (2f) 0-05; D Staunton 0-02; Ronan Keddy 0-01.
Derry: Alan Grant (3f) 0-05; Meehaul McGrath 1-01; Aodhan O’Donnell 1-00; Cormac O’Doherty 0-02; Liam Murphy, Mark McGuigan, Colm Murphy, Brendan Quigley, Naoise Waldron 0-01 each.
Wicklow: Robert Fitzgerald; Emmet Byrne, Stephen Kelly, Martin O’Brien; Garry Byrne, Warren Kavanagh, Eamonn Kearns; Ronan Keddy, Danny Staunton; John Connors, John Henderson, Seanie Germaine; Padraig Doyle, Andy O’Brien, George O’Brien. Subs: Jack Doyle for Seanie Germaine (56 mins); Peter Keane for Garry Byrne (61 mins); Billy Cuddihy for Martin O’Brien (64 mins); Eoin McCormack for Andy O’Brien (69 mins).
Derry: Michael Kirkpatrick; Niall Farran, Patrick Turner, Darragh McCloskey; Naoise Waldron, Ciaran Steele, Jack Phelan; Thomas Magee, Mark McGuigan; Alan Grant, Meehaul McGrath, Colm Murphy; Liam Murphy, Cormac O’Doherty, Darragh Cartin. Subs: John Mullan for Patrick Turner (23 mins); Niall Smyth for Liam Murphy (HT); Aodhan O’Donnell for Darragh Cartin (38 mins); Brendan Quigley for Thomas Magee (45 mins); Tim Rankin for Alan Grant (58 mins, inj.).
Referee: Peter Burke (Kilkenny)
Martin O’Brien’s mother May celebrating Mother’s Day with a cold outing to Bray with her daughters Therese and Caitriona and grandchildren ÓisÍn and Eirin Meyler.
Derry’s Darragh McCloskey holds on tight to Wicklow’s Andy O’Brien in Bray. Photos: Barbara Flynn
Derry’s Eamon Kearns loses his hurl as John Henderson drives forward.
Padraig Doyle looks to secure possession against Derry.