Wicklow suffer a terrible trimming
WICKLOW went into this game on the back of a hardworking round one win over Mayo a week ago. Meath on the other hand had little benefit from a very one sided game against a poor St Patrick's College team who had conceded all of 5-30.
Wicklow began the game playing into the town end goal and with the aid of a moderately strong breeze at their back but were immediately under pressure when James Toher set up Adam Gannon to claim the opening point of the game.
Toher and Darren Reilly in the middle of the field were proving quiet a handful but the fantastic work rate of Stephen Kelly, who gave an exhibition of hooking and blocking, was settling the Wicklow lads and the work was rewarded by two points from Mikey Lee with one coming from a free.
Meath again replied with Toher again on the mark sending over from a free from close to the half way line.
Kelly's value to the Wicklow cause was again highlighted when he received a pin point pass from the very hardworking Shane Byrne and skipping past defenders he sent his shot over the bar.
Meath replied almost instantly with points from Patrick Conneely and Derek Doran.
Andy O'Brien had made a tentative enough start but was quickly warming to the game and he sent a magnificent cross field ball to Danny Staunton who was fouled on the 40 and Lee had no problem slotting the free over the bar.
Wicklow were finding it hard to get scores and with the prospect of playing into the wind in the second half their cause was dealt a huge blow when full back Graham Keogh was rightly red carded when he struck the inrushing Peter Durnin.
Toher put over the resultant free and was also on hand to win the puck out and fire the ball to the Wicklow square.
Willie McGrath will count himself unlucky to have his goal bound shot saved brilliantly by Joe Murphy but Durnin was on hand to follow up and send the ball high over the bar.
Andy O'Brien worked tirelessly throughout and was rewarded with a point in the 28th minute. This was the last score and the sides went into half time with only a single point between them with Meath shading the scoring stakes on a scoreline of 0-06 to 0-05.
The second half began with Wicklow fighting hard to stay in the game.
Meath resorted to shooting from distance and while some of their shooting was poor to say the least the elements were conspiring with them as the wind blowing into the Wicklow end rose considerably. Wicklow held on stubbornly.
Durnin had managed two points from play and the meath lead extended to three points.
Minutes later the hammer blow fell when a mix up in the full back line allowed the ball trickle through to Durnin who had no problem slamming to the back of the net.
All Wicklow resistance fell when, in the 20th minute of the second half, James Kelly received his second yellow of the day and Wicklow were down to 13 men.
The floodgates opened. Meath began to find their range and again Durnin was on hand to send over from a close in free. This was followed by two more Toher points, another Durnan effort, further points from Willie McGrath, Peter Farrelly, Darren Reilly and Gary Kelly wading in with a goal and point. Wicklow had been well and truly beaten out the gate.
These sides will now meet in the first round of the league which will be played in Arklow on February 16. Based on the final score there is plenty to occupy Casey O'Brien and his management team in the coming weeks.
On the day Wicklow could not cope with losing two players while at the same time facing into the second half gale.
Most pundits will agree that Kelly's first yellow card was harsh for the offense and when he got the line on his second yellow his loss was the straw that broke the camels back.