WICKLOW got a rude awakening when they made the long journey to the little village club grounds of Kinagh in Longford to play the home side in the Hastings Cup on Saturday.
LONGFORD 4-10 WICKLOW 0-05
Wicklow were short of key players like Conor McGraynor, Aaron Murphy, John Henderson, Shane O'Rourke, P.J.O'Keeffe and Phillip Murphy and were no match for an impressive Longford team.
We might have known that the midlanders had a useful team this year.
They are the promoters of the Hasting Cup, a competition that ran very well some years ago.
It had lapsed in recent years but Longford revived it this year.
This win on Saturday plus an equally big win over Roscommon the week before puts them through to the final where they are expected to clash with the winners of the northern section, most likely Cavan.
This defeat is a set back to Wicklow's preparations for the Leinster championship but with more matches to come in this competition and in the Carlow run tournament the mentors, Damien Byrne, Ronnie Phillips and Pat Wogan believe they can get the show back on the road.
It is not even the end of the road in the Hastings Cup. They play Roscommon at a Roscommon venue next Saturday and a win in that match would put them into the Shield final.
Longford had the ball in the Wicklow net inside five minutes, well before the Wicklow lads had time to settle after the long journey.
A strong, well drilled and talented team made sure that the visitors would not get the opportunity to recover from tat early set back.
Quite simply they were in a different league on the day. Whether a full strength Wicklow would have been able to reverse that result is another matter.
Fifteen minutes had passed before Brendan McCrea had Wicklow's first point while their only other score of the first half was a point from a free by Daniel woods. The half time score was 2-6 to 0-2.
Goalie Paul Miley could not be blamed for the shots that beat him and made two other point blank saves that will do his confidence no harm.
Brendan McCrea is clearly the best young forward available to the Wicklow selectors right now but he was starved of possession in an inside role this time. Even when he moved out field in an effort to get more time on the ball it made little difference
The Wicklow mentors dipped into their limited panel for second half replacements, but without success. Ross O'Brien did try to rally his forwards when he soloed up field to send over a point but the only other scores of the half came from McCrea and Woods.
Wicklow team - Paul Miley; Jamie Snell, John Manley, Jimmie Kelly; Michael Mangan, Ross O'Brien, Martin O'Brien; Kevin Dempsey (Barndarrig), Shane Hogan; Daniel Woods, Paddy Crowley, Theo Smith; Joey Doyle, Brendan McCrea, Paddy O'Rourke.
Subs - Aaron Nugent for Doyle; Phillip O'Connor for Manley; Alan Daly for M.O'Brien; Brendan Swords (An Tochar) for O'Rourke; John Deeney (Eire Og) for Mangan.
Wicklow played Kildare in the Carlow U-21tournament at the St Laurence's grounds in Ballytore last night (Tuesday) and will play their next match in the Hastings Cup against Roscommon at a Roscommon venue on Saturday.