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Tuesday 30 September 2014

Wicklow collapse

Published 12/03/2014 | 05:44

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Wicklow's ambitions of a quick return to Division 3 of the NFL received another setback on Sunday when a day that had started off quite promisingly suddenly turned sour at the start of the second half. And for the second week in a row they were totally outplayed in the last quarter of a match in Division 4 of the National Football League - this time by Leitrim and to make the pill that bit harder to swallow it happened in front of their own home supporters in Aughrim.

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Wicklow's ambitions of a quick return to Division 3 of the NFL received another setback on Sunday when a day that had started off quite promisingly suddenly turned sour at the start of the second half. And for the second week in a row they were totally outplayed in the last quarter of a match in Division 4 of the National Football League - this time by Leitrim and to make the pill that bit harder to swallow it happened in front of their own home supporters in Aughrim.

Whatever advantage the wind had to offer favoured Leitrim in the first half but it was Wicklow that set the pace all through that first period.

Seven times they took the lead and each time Leitrim came lack to level the match. With the 35 minutes almost up Leitrim went in front for the first time - corner forward Robert Lowe getting the odd point in 15.

Half time - Leitrim 0-8; Wicklow 0-7.

Rory Finn opened the scoring with a good point after strong running by Patrick McWalter, who was at last restored to his position in the centre of the defence.

Emlyn Mulligan pointed a free of bring the sides level but Finn, who was having a great game was through again to take a pass from Stafford to restore the Wicklow lead.

Again Leitrim hit back with full forward James Glancy sending his corner man Robert Lowe through for another equaliser. That pattern was to continue; Darren Hayden did the spade work for a Paul Earls point and the lead again but after ten scoreless minutes it was Leitrim that got the next score - Kevin Conlan pointing a 45.

After Wicklow had missed a couple of scoring chances Seanie Furlong pointed a free from the 45m line and Wicklow were in front again. That brought a quick reply from the Leitrim centre forward Gerry Hickey. Seanie Furlong restored the Wicklow lead but Mulligan pointed a free at the other end.

Conor McGraynor had a great point from an acute angle but full forward Glancy cancelled that one out.

Seanie Furlong set up Rory Finn for a point and Wicklow were in front for the seventh time on the stroke of the half hour but Leitrim got on top in the closing minutes and Mulligan levelled the game from a free and on the stroke of time Lowe edged Leitrim ahead.

Wicklow had lost Niall Gaffney to a black card in the 16th minute but his replacement James Sheerin was doing quite well.

Harry had every reason to be reasonably pleased with that first half performance. Alan Byrne, without doing anything spectacular had held big danger man Emlyn Mulligan scoreless from play; McWalter was doing well at the heart of the defence and Rory Finn was having a stormier.

His side were just a point down but he would have some assistance from the wind.

The turning point in what up to that had been a very even match came in the second minute of the second half. Seanie Furlong got possession, broke through but was foot blocked only yards short of the line.

Paul Earls took the penalty but blasted a powerful shot off the upright and the chance of taking the lead was gone. As it turned out the effect on the team was devastating

Leitrim grew in confidence after that let off. Points by the two corner forwards - Emlyn Mulligan (his first from play) and Robert Lowe put three between the sides.

Rory Finn tried to rally Wicklow with a might point from long range but that brought a quick reply from Mulligan.

Finn was brought down going through and Earls pointed the free. The score was 0-11 to 0-9 going into the last quarter and Wicklow, with the wind behind them appeared to be still in the game with a good chance.

What happened to the last 10 minutes was a repeat of the Clare game and that is what must worry Harry most.

Leitrim landed six points on the trot and finished off the job with a goal in injury time.

While the first half performance was promising the second, and in particular the last quarter left a lot to be desired.

The fighting spirit that we showed up in Antrim was not evident this time and we must take note of the fact that Carlow, our next opponents beat Antrim on Sunday.

We are not out of the running just yet, Division 4 is a strange division and can take many twists and turns so a win next Sunday could still put us back in the running.

It could be said that the final score line flattered Leitrim but this is the second match in a row where Wicklow faded out in the last quarter and while the loss of a player could be used as an excuse in Ennis we had nothing like that to trot out this time.

Scorers - Leitrim - Ray Cox 1-1; Emlyn Mulligan 0-7 5f; Kevin Conlan, Robert Lowe and James Glancy 0-2 each;Gerry Hickey and Darren Sweeney and Aaron Hickey 0-1.

Wicklow - Seanie Furlong and Rory Finn 0-4 each; Paul Earls 0-2; Conor McGraynor 0-1.

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