Stalwart’s sweet strike wins derby for Wicklow Town
WICKLOW ROVERS WICKLOW TOWN 2 3
A MOMENT of sublime magic from Wicklow Town stalwart Johnny Carton secured a sweet victory over neighbours Wicklow Rovers after an entertaining Pat O’Toole Division 1 clash at Whitegates on Sunday afternoon last.
Carton had been instrumental in helping Town get back into the game when he dispatched a penalty late in the second half to level the game at 2-2 with the momentum swinging the way of the visitors at that late stage.
This was Wicklow Rovers’ first game in the Pat O’Toole Division 1 this season and although they tasted defeat on this occasion, they can look forward to a fruitful season ahead because they are a young team with buckets of potential all over the park and having no shortage of football behind them with many of their number having played youths in the DDSL until recently.
But the victory went the way of the Town and they can thank Carton, John Connors, Eric Dunne, Ian Murphy and Christy Moorehouse for their victory after they produced a dynamic performance that saw them claw their way back into the game on two occasions before hammering the fatal blow to the Wicklow Rovers cause when Johnny Carton bagged a wonder goal with time almost up.
We’ll start with the winning goal. It was a thing of beauty. If Johnny Carton never kicks a ball again it should never bother him. If he scores a better one for the rest of his career, he’ll be doing very well.
A free from deep was launched to the edge of the box. There’s Carton, lurking like a lethal predator, his shark-like instincts focused on one thing and one thing only, getting that ball into the back of Rossa Marron’s net and thereby securing a late victory for his beloved Town.
A deft touch from the renowned attacker takes the sting out of the cross and leaves the ball bouncing gently in front of him as he is closed down by Brian Harrington and Patrick O’Keane.
Carton’s not concerned. He watches the ball bounce twice in front of him as he engineers his poised frame into the optimum position for a shot for the jugular.
A swift swing of the hips and some nimble footwork has Carton turned in a flash. He swings that right boot and makes an orgasmic connection with the ball, sending it upwards on a wicked arc that sees it sail majestically over the head of Marron who can only collapse to the ground as the roars erupt from the Town players and supporters. Epic!
Johnny Carton is swallowed up by his colleagues and he gets the manliest of manly hugs from John Connors as the Town men celebrate a magnificent strike.
Things hadn’t looked so rosy for Town after 21 minutes when Luca Rampersaud took the ball around Ian Murphy before finishing to the back of the net for the game’s opening goal. Rovers were looking full of intent and oozing with potential as they played some lovely football up and down the field with Patrick O’Keane and Rampersaud being chief tormentors of the Town defence.
Prior to that goal for Rovers, Ian Murphy had produced a fantastic save from the boot of Rampersaud who ran on to an Adam Cuddihy ball before blasting it at Murphy.
The strike was at a reasonable height for a goalkeeper, but it was hit with the force of a rocket and Murphy did superbly to save.
The early stages were littered with half chances and cleared dangers from both sides with Eli Graham, Jack Gibney and Ryan Corrigan looking useful at the back for Rovers while Dale Quinn, John Connors and Eric Dunne was putting themselves about for Town.
Rovers’ lead didn’t last long. Town won a free for a foul by Hugh Humby who saw yellow from ‘Butch’ Doran. Up stepped John Connors and the Pat’s hurling legend stuck the ball in the top corner of Marron’s net to level the game in some style.
Chances came and went for both teams for the remainder of the first half with a great battle developing between John Connors and Patrick O’Keane as the athletic O’Keane looked to punish Town down the right wing time and time again but Connors standing tall on more than one occasion. Town would also lose Dale Quinn to injury with Keith Meila taking his place in that opening half.
The earliest chance in the second half fell to Stephen Finlay but his shot was gathered easily by Murphy in the Town goal. Rob Talaga was presented with a decent chance to take the ball around Murphy but the Town netminder stood up well and saved Talaga’s shot with his foot.
The early stages of the second half were all about Rovers, to be fair, as they brought a massive energy to their play to try and get that lead goal early on.
Luca Rampersaud will feel that he should have done better when he found himself one on one with Ian Murphy only to see his right-footed effort blaze wide.
The home side would find the way through a dogged defence in the 78th minute when Jack Gibney was gifted the ball as Town attacked.
He sent it forward to Hugh Humby who launched a missile of a pass to the feet of Rampersaud who managed to dispatch his shot past Ian Murphy before being clattered by the chasing Christy Moorehouse.
Town now started to ask questions of Rovers at every opportunity as searched for the levelling goal. A corner was swung in by Eric Dunne and Gavin Caffrey stooped low to head while Rampersaud lifted the boot to clear it.
Both men looked to have eyes only for the ball, but Caffrey went down holding his head and ‘Butch’ Doran signalled for a penalty. In fairness to Rampersaud he made contact with the ball and felt really hard done by with the decision.
Johnny Carton stepped up to take the spot kick and he sent it sweetly to the bottom corner of the net with Marron going the wrong way.
All square at 2-2 when a neutral observer might have said that Rovers looked to be heading to victory at certain stages of this game.
It was in the 85th minute when Carton struck gold. Rovers would come calling repeatedly but Ian Murphy and his defence stood firm until the final whistle heralded a sweet, sweet victory for Town over the neighbours.
When these two sides meet in the return leg, it would be a game well worth attending.
John Connors, Wicklow Town. Stood up when he was needed and cleared plenty of Rovers’ attacks.
TOP FORM: WICKLOW ROVERS:
1. Rossa Marron,
2. Ryan Corrigan, 3. Eli Graham, 4. Jack Gibney, 5. Dan Harbourne, 6. Brian Harrington, 7. Patrick O’Keane, 8. Hugh Humby, 9. Stephen Finlay, 10. Luca Rampersaud, 11. Adam Cuddihy. Subs: 12. Dan Fitzsimons, 13. James Lang, 14. JJ Power,
15. Rob Talaga, 16. Jack Evans.
1. Ian Murphy, 2. Gavin Caffrey, 3. Dale Quinn, 4. Sean O’Brien,
5. John Connors, 6. Michael Connors, 7. Jordan Sinnott, 8. Eric Dunne, 9. Christy Moorehouse, 10. Johnny Carton, 11. Patrick Murphy. Subs: 12. Craig Noal, 13. Keith Meila, 17. PJ Yeates, 18. Paul Kelly.
WICKLOW TOWN: REFEREE:
Tony ‘Butch’ Doran
Wicklow Town, who edged out local rivals Wicklow Rovers on Sunday.
Wicklow Rovers, who lost out to Wicklow Town in their Pat O’Toole Division 1 clash.