Sunday 21 January 2018

North Wexford follow defeat with clearcut win

Brendan Furlong

The North Wexford squad before Wednesday's victory over Wicklow in Arklow
The North Wexford squad before Wednesday's victory over Wicklow in Arklow

North Wexford's inaugural game in the Under-17 hurling Celtic challenge opened on a disappointing note as they went under to a three-point defeat to Kildare at the Ferns Centre of Excellence.

Kildare 0-16 north Wexford 1-10

The North Wexford boys played their best hurling when wind assisted in the opening half, but Kildare went on to control the second 30 minutes, gaining a particular dominance in midfield through James Burke. Their ability to pick off points from a variety of angles eventually led them to a three-point victory.

North Wexford will be disappointed with this opening game as they had sufficient first-half possession to have built a winning lead, but inaccurate finishing cost them numerous scores. Although they still managed to build a four-point interval lead, it was not sufficient once Kildare stepped up the tempo of their game on the resumption.

The newly-inaugurated tournament being run off this year as preparation to replace the Minor grade still has many questions as, given the one-year age difference, it will not provide the quality hurling one has become accustomed to at Under-18 level.

But while it is early days, the G.A.A. still has much soul-searching in store as this is a grade that it is going to reduce the standard of hurling, particularly if one was to judge on the quality from this particular game.

Wexford opened the scoring through an opening minute point from Charlie McGuckin, but with Kildare midfielder James Butler responding with three points along with a Ciarán Tobin effort, the visitors led by 0-4 to 0-1 at the end of the opening quarter.

The home county responded with points from Dara Gray along with three Diarmuid Doyle efforts (one free) to lead by 0-5 to 0-4, but when Chris Turner shot a goal from close range it helped the home side to a 1-6 to 0-5 interval lead.

Kildare took the initiative on the resumption with James Burke adding three quick points (one free) to level the sides.

Although Wexford regained the lead through a ninth-minute Diarmuid Doyle point, Kildare went on to assume control in the closing quarter, picking off a string of points to eventually run out deserving three-point winners.

Wexford: Jack Quinn (St. Patrick's); Shane Stokes (Naomh Eanna), Cathal O'Reilly (Tara Rocks), Rory Heffernan (Liam Mellows); Barry Doyle (Marshalstown-Castledockrell), Ross Cody (Liam Mellows), Cian Fitzhenry (Duffry Rovers); Diarmuid Doyle (Marshalstown-Castledockrell, 0-6, 2 frees), Eoghan Murphy (Ferns St. Aidan's, 0-1); Eoin Cullen (Liam Mellows), Edward Dunbar (HWH-Bunclody), Charlie McGuckin (Naomh Eanna, 0-1); Brian O'Neill (Ferns St. Aidan's), Chris Turner (Ferns St. Aidan's, 1-1, 0-1 free), Darryl Gray (Oulart-The Ballagh, 0-1). Subs. - Niall Nimmo (Oulart-The Ballagh) for Stokes, Michael Molloy (Naomh Eanna) for Gray, Cathal Doyle (HWH-Bunclody) for Fitzhenry, Shane Murphy (Marshalstown-Castledockrell) for B. Doyle.

Kildare: Mark Doyle; Mikie Barea, Richie Hogan, Lorcan Behan; Paul Hogan, Rianan Earan, James Nolan; James Burke (0-10, 4 frees, 1 '65), Seán Mac Donnacha; Kevin Ahearne (0-2), Martin Moloney, Aaron Deegan (0-1); Ciarán Tobin (0-1), Paudie O'Neill, Liam O'Flynn (0-2). Subs. - Philip Tierney for O'Neill, Chris Delaney for Behan.

Referee: John Keenan (Wicklow).

North Wexford 5-22, Wicklow 2-13: North Wexford were the visitors to Pearse Park in Arklow to take on the Wicklow Under-17 hurlers in the Celtic Challenge on Wednesday.

And they got off to a flyer with points from Cathal Doyle and Charlie McGuckin. Wicklow should have had a better return from a period of dominance, but a string of great saves allied to some stubborn defending kept their forwards at bay.

An Ian Clancy pointed free opened the Wicklow scoring but this was quickly followed by a string of scores for North Wexford who amassed an unanswered goal and five points in a ten-minute period.

Tormentor in chief was McGuckin who accounted for a goal and point.

Pádraig O'Toole landed Wicklow's second score in the 15th minute but North Wexford and McGuckin in particular were doing all the scoring, adding another three points. Wicklow mounted a charge from the 25th minute, with Ian Clancy pointing four frees and Pádraig O'Toole sending over a long-range point from play, but at the other end the visitors were able to increase their score with a further goal and four points to go into the half-time break leading by 2-14 to 0-7.

The opportunity to grab a much-needed goal came and went for Wicklow, with Wexford 'keeper Jack Quinn continuing his fine form, and Wicklow had to settle for a well-taken point from Cal Connolly.

Wexford again found their scoring touch as McGuckin , who would finish the game with an incredible 2-10 from play, got them rolling, and when Diarmuid Doyle added three more points the game was out of Wicklow's grasp.

Two more goals came from Darryl Gray and Cian Fitzhenry, while Brian O'Neill sent over a great point and McGuckin landed another two.

North Wexford had just too much scoring power, with Cathal Doyle pointing along with another goal from Cian Fitzhenry to secure the spoils on a scoreline of 5-22 to 2-13.

North Wexford: Jack Quinn, Niall Nimmo, Cathal O'Reilly, Rory Heffernan, Barry Doyle, Ross Cody, Diarmuid Doyle(0-4), Eoghan Murphy (0-1), Mike Kelly, Eoin Cullen, Charlie McGuckin (2-10), Edward Dunbar, Jack Reck, Chris Turner (0-2), Darryl Gray (1-0), Mick McGrath, Brian O'Neill (0-1), Shane Stafford, Jamie Roban, Cian Fitzhenry (2-0), Tomás O'Gorman, Michael Molloy, James Dempsey, Cathal Doyle (0-4), Lee McHale, Bradley Collier, Eoghan Kennedy, Shane Murphy.

Wicklow: Cian Staunton, Eoghan Potts, Bryan Kearney, Killian Hannon, M.J. Moran, Conor Deering, Pádraig O'Toole (1-3), Ian Clancy (0-7), Matthew Traynor (0-1), Aaron Byrne, Gary Hughes (0-1), Jonathan O'Neill, Eanna Owens, Cal Connolly (0-1), Brandan Scully, George O'Brien, Joseph McDonald, Mikey Griffin, Ross Ward (1-0), Steven Lee.



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