Hurlers grab vital win in Christy Ring Cup
WHEN the apocalypse hits and the world needs one man to defend it, enter Warren Kavanagh. The Glenealy man and Wicklow captain was exceptional at full-back as Wicklow put Mayo to the sword in their opening Christy Ring Cup game last weekend.
Mayo attempted to isolate him against their full-forward, Corey Scahill. Their attempts were futile. Scahill was often the only Mayo player within 30 metres of Wicklow’s goal, Kavanagh keeping him company. If Kavanagh made a mistake or let Scahill have possession, he had a clear run at goal.
But such ideas are ludicrous because Kavanagh never made a mistake or let Scahill have possession. If it came in high, Kavanagh caught it. If it came in low, Kavanagh was there first. If it came in any other way, Kavanagh flicked it away.
At the other end of the field, Mikey Lee made a welcome return to the Wicklow jersey, Wexford import PJ Nolan added some ball winning ability to the half-forward line while Seanie Germaine not so much put his hand up for selection as barged his way to the front of the line during his 30-minute cameo.
This was a good win for Wicklow though, in truth, not a great performance. Mayo were poor on the day and gifted Wicklow a few points with their inaccurate passing and mistakes. Wicklow, at times, weren’t much better.
Their concession of 1-02 at the end of each half made the result much closer than it should have been. For a period during the second half their balls into the full-forward line were high, Hail Mary type passes that gave the forwards little hope of winning them. They hit 14 wides and didn’t take a few more goal chances.
All in all, they performed like an old car chugging along rather than a brand new model gliding along the road. However, as manager Seamus Murphy said afterwards, preparations weren’t ideal with injuries hampering much of the squad, the poor weather interrupting the training schedule and a lack of match practice due to April being a club only month.
It sets them up for a trip to Roscommon at the weekend before they welcome Kildare when they’ll need to move up a couple of gears against a team that played in Division 2A this year.
The teams were level at two points each in the tenth minute, George and Andy O’Brien with the Wicklow points, but Wicklow scored eleven of the next twelve points to lead by ten on the half hour mark.
Andy O’Brien, Mikey Lee, Christy Moorehouse, PJ Nolan and Danny Staunton all got on the scoresheet during that time, a couple of the points handed to Wicklow on a plate by Mayo, a couple of the points were sublime efforts.
In defence Wicklow held Mayo scoreless for eighteen minutes, Patrick Kiely’s point their first from play in the 26th minute. When Mayo didn’t go long because Warren Kavanagh made a mockery of the idea, their half forward line and midfield were suffocated by Wicklow’s tackling. Under pressure, two of their shots drifted wide and two fell short into Robert Fitzgerald’s hand.
Mayo handed themselves a lifeline with 1-02 before half time and halved the deficit. Wicklow indiscipline allowed Kenny Feeney to convert a couple of frees and then Corey Scahill struck for a goal in the last action of the half.
A wayward John Henderson pass lost possession and a long Mayo ball into the full forward line was won by Brian Morley. Martin O’Brien let Morley past him and he found Scahill who hit the back of the net at the second time of asking.
It certainly changed the team talks at half time and Wicklow came out of the dressing room in no mood for the difference to get any closer. Lee, Andy O’Brien and an extraordinary Garry Byrne point increased the lead to eight. Byrne simply pulled on a loose ball, similar to Cork’s John Fenton in the 1980s, and it sailed between the uprights from near the 65.
Not to be outdone in the outrageous stakes, Byrne’s Glenealy teammate Danny Staunton produced his own moment of magic moments later. He sent two Mayo defenders the wrong way with a silky handpass behind his back to PJ Nolan and the Askamore man hit his second point at his leisure.
Feeney converted two more frees to keep the Mayo scoreboard ticking over but Germaine’s goal in the 50th minute extended the lead back to ten points. Ten minutes later the lead was twelve and Mayo could only add a couple of late consolation scores to take the bad look off the scoreboard.
Scorers – Wicklow: Andy O’Brien (5f) 0-08; Mikey Lee 0-04; Seanie Germaine 1-01; Christy Moorehouse, PJ Nolan 0-02 each; Garry Byrne, Danny Staunton, George O’Brien 0-01 each.
Mayo: Kenny Feeney (8f) 0-09; Corey Scahill, Eanna Ryan 1-00 each; Patrick Kiely, Shane Boland 0-01 each.
Wicklow: Robert Fitzgerald; Peter Keane, Warren Kavanagh, Martin O’Brien; Garry Byrne, John Henderson, Eamonn Kearns; Ronan Keddy, Danny Staunton; PJ Nolan, Anto Byrne, Christy Moorehouse; George O’Brien, Andy O’Brien, Mikey Lee. Subs: Seanie Germaine for George O’Brien (42 mins); Billy Cuddihy for Ronan Keddy (63 mins); Enda Donohoe for PJ Nolan (66 mins); Jack Doyle for Andy O’Brien (74 mins).
Mayo: Donal O’Brien; Austin Lyons, Conor Daly, Sean Mulroy; Conor Henry, David Kenny, Donal McGreal; Kieran McDermott, Brian Hunt; Eanna Ryan, Kenny Feeney, Patrick Kiely; Brian Morley, Corey Scahill, Shane Boland. Subs: Michael Morley for Austin Lyons (29 mins); Bobby Douglas for Corey Scahill, Conor Murray for Donal McGreal (both 52 mins); Darren McTighe for Patrick Kiely (59 mins); Martin Parsons for Donal O’Brien (63 mins).
Referee: P Burke (Kilkenny)
Wicklow’s Mikey Lee in action against Mayo.
Wicklow’s Christy Moorehouse in action against Mayo’s Austin Lyons.