Harsh send­ing off ruins hurlers’ day

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - SPORT -

FOL­LOW­ING on from ear­lier round de­feats at the hands of West­meath and Antrim, Wick­low trav­elled to New­bridge to take on the hurlers of Kil­dare for the third round of the Bord na Mona Ke­hoe Cup on Sun­day last.

This had the po­ten­tial to be a very dif­fi­cult game for Wick­low as they were tak­ing on last year’s Christy Ring Cup win­ners lin­ing out with up to eight rel­a­tively new play­ers.

Right from the start Wick­low re­ally got stuck into the game and it was very heart­en­ing to see the ex­cel­lent or­gan­i­sa­tion that was on dis­play through­out the full and half-back lines.

John Hen­der­son, Peter Keane and War­ren Ka­vanagh mopped up much of the early pres­sure.

The re­turn of Danny Staunton to the mid­field was prov­ing very ben­e­fi­cial and he was re­spon­si­ble for some ex­cel­lent dis­tri­bu­tion to the for­wards which re­sulted in points fro Gary Hughes and Seanie Ger­maine, the lat­ter score com­ing from a free af­ter Eoin McCor­mack was fouled on the 21.

Kil­dare fi­nally got off the mark in the fifth minute with a fine effort from Conor Dowl­ing and this was soon fol­lowed by a pointed free from Brian Byrne which lev­elled the game.

Wick­low should have in­creased their lead but a to­tal of six first half wides and some poor shot se­lec­tion was ham­per­ing progress.

Seanie Ger­maine had a guilt edged chance to goal on the ninth minute but un­for­tu­nately he came up against an in form Mark Doyle in the Kil­dare goal.

Danny Staunton man­aged to win the re­sul­tant clear­ance and he sent over a beauty from forty yards.

Kil­dare hit a pur­ple patch and for the next ten min­utes they laid siege to the Wick­low lines.

Tor­men­tor in chief was Sean Chris­tiansen who took two points with Reece Gavin and Brian Byrne get­ting in on the act the lat­ter score com­ing from a free.

Wick­low did have chances dur­ing this pe­riod but once again some way­ward shooting and Padraig Doyle was most un­for­tu­nate when his flick on a high drop­ping ball scraped the out­side of the Kil­dare up­right.

Things could have been worse had not Wick­low’s keeper Conor McNally re­acted quickly to smother a goal -bound effort from Bernard Deay with 25 min­utes on the clock. Wick­low not hit some form as they worked to chip away at Kil­dare’s three-point lead.

Padraig Doyle and Luke Evans got two well worked points be­fore Brian Byrne put over two pointed frees ei­ther side of an­other ex­cel­lent Danny Staunton effort.

Seanie Ger­maine closed out the half with a point from a 65 to leave just one point be­tween the sides with Kil­dare lead­ing 0-8 Wick­low 0-7.

Over­all, the Wick­low man­age­ment must have been pleased with the half and one could see a very no­tice­able or­gan­i­sa­tion in the back line which was no won­der with the ex­pe­ri­ence and lead­er­ship been shown by Kelly, Hen­der­son, Ka­vanagh and Keane.

The sec­ond half saw the in­tro­duc­tion of Christy Moor­house who re­placed Luke Evans and Wick­low were show­ing a lot of early de­ter­mi­na­tion and prom­ise.

It was not long be­fore the game was level and a great com­bi­na­tion move be­tween Seanie Ger­maine, Eoin McCor­mack and Ro­nan Keddy fi­nally set up Hughes who split the posts.

Al­most im­me­di­ately, Wick­low were on the at­tack again when Moor­house won a nice ball un­der pres­sure and his quick flick to Doyle sent the big half-for­ward bar­relling down on goal.

In fair­ness, Doyle did ev­ery­thing cor­rectly as he bat­ted his shot into the ground in front of the Kil­dare keeper but once again Kil­dare’s Mark Doyle was up to the chal­lenge as he some­how got a touch to deny the score.

Eight min­utes into the half and with the sides level it looked like Wick­low had a re­al­is­tic chance in this game.

How­ever, dis­as­ter struck when fol­low­ing what ap­peared to be lit­tle more than a group bout of pulling and drag­ging with no ac­tual punch be­ing thrown, Stephen Kelly was shown what ap­peared a very harsh red card.

The ef­fect was al­most im­me­di­ate. Kil­dare be­gan to turn the screw with a goal and two points in the next four min­utes.

Wick­low fought hard to re­gain com­po­sure but could not muster the scores needed and it was Kil­dare that added two more points be­fore Eoin McCor­mack pointed on the 26th minute of the half.

Kil­dare would go to reg­is­ter two goals and seven points in the last seven min­utes of the game with Wick­low se­cur­ing a fi­nal point from Jonathan O’Neill.

A cruel ending to the game but Wick­low will take many pos­i­tives from this se­ries.

Firstly, Ea­monn Scallan has as­sem­bled a keen group of ath­letes who are very clearly com­ing to­gether as a tight unit.

The blood­ing of new young play­ers has been a bonus and as we go for­ward to a very com­pet­i­tive league this ex­pe­ri­ence will prove cru­cial.

We are also look­ing at some ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers re­turn­ing from in­jury which will add con­sid­er­able weight to the panel.

Next up is War­wick­shire on Jan­uary 26 in the NHL Di­vi­sion 2B. WICK­LOW: Conor McNally; Bryan Kear­ney, Stephen Kelly, War­ren Ka­vanagh; Peter Keane, John Hen­der­son, Ro­nan Byrne; Danny Staunton (0-2), Ro­nan Keddy; Luke Evans (0-1), Padraig Doyle (0-1), Gary Hughes (0-2); Seanie Ger­maine(0-2, 1f, 1 65), Eoin McCor­mack (0-1) Michael Boland. Subs: Christy Moor­house, Jonathan O’Neill (0-1), Martin O’Brien, Anto Byrne.

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