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Third quarter burst not enough for spirited Louth hurlers

Wicklow 1-19 Louth 0-15


Louth's Seánie Crosbie gets a shot off during Sunday's Kehoe Shield final against Wicklow. Picture: Joe Byrne

Louth's Seánie Crosbie gets a shot off during Sunday's Kehoe Shield final against Wicklow. Picture: Joe Byrne

Louth's Seánie Crosbie gets a shot off during Sunday's Kehoe Shield final against Wicklow. Picture: Joe Byrne

Wicklow overcame Louth in a comfortable manner in the end to win the Kehoe Shield title by seven points on Sunday afternoon, but it took a big step up in their performance in the final quarter to take the spoils from the spirited visitors.

The Wee men were five points in arrears at half-time in Aughrim, at 0-12 to 0-7, but came back very strongly in the third quarter to level the game at 0-12 each coming up to the halfway stage in the second half.

Wicklow introduced Andy O’Brien, Kieran Conway and Jacques McCall at this stage, while Seánie Germaine restored the Garden County’s lead from a free, and when O’Brien pointed with his first possession it was the signal for Wicklow to go up a gear and drive on for victory.

Germaine put the home side ahead in the opening minute of the game when he pointed a free and Bill O’Brien added another from play a minute later. However, Louth began to dominate in the middle third of the field and had gone ahead after eight minutes to lead by 0-3 to 0-2. Their scores came from Darren Geoghegan (2) and half-back Seán Hodgkins.

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Louth appeared to have an advantage in physique and some of the younger players on the home side struggled for a while at this stage in the game.

Midfielder Mark Murphy levelled matters at 0-3 after 10 minutes and the next quarter-hour developed into a free-taking shoot-out between Germaine and Geoghegan with the Wicklow man converting four as against three for the Louth sharpshooter.

A strong breeze downfield blowing into the town goal began to take its toll in Wicklow’s favour and the home side notched further points from play from George O’Brien, John Toomey (a fine overhead catch and immediate strike), an Aaron Byrne point set-up by George O’Brien and a Shaun Cranley score, from an interception, left the winners ahead by five points as the game entered added time.

Germaine (from another free) and Mark Gahan from play exchanged points before the break to leave the home side leading by 0-12 to 0-7.

The influence of the wind appeared to be greater than thought as Louth dominated the first 10 minutes of the second half and two points from play by half-back Jamie McDonnell and three points from centre-forward Geoghegan (one free, one 65 and another from play) had the sides level at 0-12 each 13 minutes into the second half.

In addition, Louth corner-forward Andrew Mackin had messed up an almost certain major when he lost control of the ball with the goal at his mercy. His colleague Gahan had also shot wide when well-placed for a three-pointer.

Wicklow had yet to score in this half and were in trouble. But the introduction of O’Brien, John Doyle Jnr and Conway had an almost immediate effect. Louth full-back Donal Ryan had been in control in front of goal, but he found O’Brien difficult to control.

Germaine pointed a free to restore the Wicklow lead and O’Brien scored two points from play. Wicklow were far more competitive in the middle third of the field from here to the finish.

Germaine converted a 65 but two pointed frees from Darren Geoghegan kept the Wee County in touch.

However, the destination of the Shield was decided in the 28th minute. Great work in midfield by Shane Browne saw him land in a long ball on O’Brien, who set up Conway for the only goal of the game.

O’Brien almost got another when he got a touch on a long delivery from John Toomey, but the ball went wide of the post. Still, however, Wicklow drove on for victory with further points from play by O’Brien (2) and Toomey.

The Wee County responded with two further Geoghegan points from frees, leaving Wicklow comfortable winners on a score of 1-19 to 0-15.

Wicklow: Bob Fitzgerald; Tommy Collins, Ciarán Harmon, Martin O’Brien; James Byrne, Ciarán Breen, Shane Browne; Shaun Cranley 0-1, Mark Murphy 0-1; John Toomey 0-2, Seánie Germaine 0-8 (6f, 2 65s), Aaron Byrne 0-1; Torna Mulconry, George O’Brien 0-1, Bill O’Brien 0-1

Subs: Cian Staunton, Brandon Ryan, Andy O’Brien 0-4, John Doyle Jnr, Kieran Conway, Tom O’Brien

Louth: Ruairi Morrissey; Danny Morgan, Donal Ryan, Stephan Hoey; Seán Hodgkins 0-2, Conor Quigley, Jamie McDonnell 0-2; Peter Fortune, Feidhleim Joyce; Seánie Crosbie, Darren Geoghegan 0-10 (8f, 1 65), Niall Keenan; Mark Gahan 0-1, Gareth Hall, Andrew Mackin

Subs: Andrew Smyth, Ronan Mulholland, Ricky McKeown, Eddie Condon, Liam Molloy

Referee: Padraig Dunne (Laois)