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Wicklow repeat earlier win against Wexford Under-20 footballers


The Wexford squad before Saturday's Andrew Corden Cup final defeat in Aughrim.

The Wexford squad before Saturday's Andrew Corden Cup final defeat in Aughrim.

Conor Kelly is tackled close to the sideline by James Boland of Wicklow.

Conor Kelly is tackled close to the sideline by James Boland of Wicklow.


The Wexford squad before Saturday's Andrew Corden Cup final defeat in Aughrim.


Wicklow 2-16 Wexford 0-8

THE MAGNITUDE of the task facing the Wexford Under-20 footballers ahead of their Leinster championship campaign was amplified with this second heavy loss to Wicklow in the space of three weeks in a one-sided Andrew Corden Cup development league final held in rain-soaked Echelon Park, Aughrim, on Saturday.

Our neighbours left St. Patrick’s Park on February 18 with a handy 1-18 to 0-8 success, and it was more of the same here as they restricted their rivals to a similar score while going one better themselves.

After that initial meeting in Enniscorthy, I formed the view that this is one of the best Wicklow under-age sides to emerge for some time, and it will be interesting to see how they fare against Dublin in particular when the new-look round-robin championship begins.

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Wexford are in the three-team group and will host Kildare on March 28 before travelling to Westmeath one week later, with manager Anthony Russell and his fellow mentors facing a difficult task in their quest to earn a knockout place.

Certainly, there was no discernible improvement between the two performances delivered against Wicklow, even allowing for the morale boost of a big victory away to Carlow, the Corden Cup holders, in between.

Wexford have been the defeated finalists now for two years on the trot, with Liam Doyle, Brendan Tobin, Brian Cushe, Rian Fitzpatrick, Cian Hughes and Seán Hughes the only survivors from last year’s 2-10 to 1-12 loss to Carlow who featured on Saturday.

In Cushe’s case, it was his first involvement with this team in 2023 after making a corner-back position his own with the Seniors in the current league campaign. He left the field near the end clutching his head after sustaining an accidental blow, and hopefully it won’t restrict his involvement in those tough assignments to come.

The most worrying aspect of the Wexford performance was their abysmal return of just two points from play, especially when one considers the first came from the fist of Morgen Ellis after a Brendan Tobin pass as early as the second minute.

Tobin was responsible for the second, in the 42nd minute, but by that stage Wicklow were out of sight as they held a commanding and deserved 2-10 to 0-6 lead.

Otherwise, the losers were reliant on four Rian Fitzpatrick frees plus a mark apiece from Cian Hughes and Liam Doyle to complete their meagre return.

They repeatedly lost their way when they ventured towards the Wicklow 45-metre line, and their approach work was too pedestrian and predictable to pose problems for the victors.

In contrast, the hosts looked very comfortable on the ball, and Wexford were particularly slow to track the runs from deep that ensured the man in possession invariably had someone on his shoulder to avail of an off-load.

A total of 24 players got game-time here, with the likes of Andrew Smyth, Cian Twomey, Jack Higgins, Dylan Cooke-Leonard and Michael Mackey also hoping to be available for the championship.

A decent crowd turned out despite the awful weather, and there was a quick response to that opening Morgen Ellis point as defender Liam O’Neill continued where he had left off in Enniscorthy – when he split the posts four times – with his first from distance in the seventh minute.

The first big blow for Wexford was hammered home on their next attack, after J.P. Nolan caught a high ball in from O’Neill and was fouled. Full-forward Tommy Keogh made no mistake from the penalty spot, and it was all plain sailing after that.

Keogh, Nolan and Tim Harrington widened the lead to 1-4 to 0-1 by the end of the opening quarter, with another effort from Keogh sandwiched between two frees converted by Rian Fitzpatrick at the other end.

J.P. Nolan almost got in for a second Wicklow goal in the 28th minute, but Wexford sweeper Adam Harris made a timely tackle at the expense of a ’45 that the former slotted over to establish a 1-7 to 0-3 interval lead.

And that gap could have been even higher, because Seán Doyle went close to netting from two late attempts after another probing delivery from Liam O’Neill in additional time.

There was no respite for Wexford on the restart, with Tommy Keogh (free) and excellent long-striding midfielder Jack Kirwan adding Wicklow points before Cian Hughes converted a mark from a crossfield Adam Harris pass (1-9 to 0-4).

Cathal Baker played a one-two with Tim Harrington before splitting the posts, and full-back Leigh Newport had to clear further danger from his own square before Liam Doyle pointed from a mark.

Wexford never threatened a comeback though, and the second Wicklow goal was just around the corner.

A grounded Tommy Keogh did very well to pop a handpass into the path of the inrushing Baker, and he netted at the second attempt in the 41st minute after his initial shot was blocked (2-10 to 0-5).

Brendan Tobin and Rian Fitzpatrick (free) replied with points, but Wicklow continued to dominate as a raft of substitutes were introduced by both teams.

They hit six of the last seven points, with another Fitzpatrick free the only response to assured shooting from Liam O’Neill, Seán Doyle (free), Adam Kinsella, and a late treble from impressive substitute Niall Sheahan.

Wexford captain Rory Tubritt made a good save to deny Páidí Kavanagh a third Wicklow goal, while attempts at securing a consolation from Alan Mahoney and Cathal Murphy were thwarted at the other end.

Wexford: Rory Tubritt (Naomh Éanna, capt.); Conor Jones (Kilanerin), Leigh Newport (St. Mary’s, Rosslare), Darragh Furlong (Davidstown-Courtnacuddy); Conor Kelly (Naomh Éanna), Brian Cushe (Naomh Éanna), Luke Darley (Naomh Éanna); Rian Fitzpatrick (Naomh Éanna, 0-4 frees), Josh White-Keating (St. James’); Morgen Ellis (Fethard, 0-1), Cian Hughes (Kilanerin, 0-1 mark), Ruairí Martin (Naomh Éanna); Adam Harris (Horeswood), Liam Doyle (Ballyhogue, 0-1 mark), Brendan Tobin (Craanford, 0-1). Subs. – Micheál McGonigle (Kilanerin) for White-Keating (HT), James Doyle (Glynn-Barntown) for Darley (42), Alan Mahoney (Glynn-Barntown) for Tobin (45), Daniel Roche (Castletown) for Cushe, inj. (55), Jack Morris (Marshalstown-Castledockrell) for Ellis (55), Ruairí Lacey (Monageer-Boolavogue) for Jones (55), Alex Kirby (Sarsfields) for Newport (55), Seán Hughes (Kilanerin) for Fitzpatrick (57), Cathal Murphy (Kilanerin) for Harris (57), also Liam Donoghue (Glynn-Barntown), Bill Peare (Starlights).

Wicklow: Jack Sargent; Adam Byrne, Luke O’Brien, Adam Kinsella (0-1); Mark Murtagh, Liam O’Neill (0-2), James Boland; Matt Nolan (capt.), Jack Kirwan (0-1); Tim Harrington (0-1), Cathal Baker (1-1), Joe Prendergast; Seán Doyle (0-1 free), Tommy Keogh (1-4, 1-0 pen., 0-2 frees), J.P. Nolan (0-2, 1 ’45). Subs. – Austin Brennan for Byrne (HT), Cian Deering for Murtagh (41), Dan Cooney for Prendergast (44), Adam Arslan for Harrington (48), Niall Sheahan (0-3, 1 free) for Keogh (48), James Fleming for Boland (52), Páidí Kavanagh for Doyle (52), Alex Kavanagh for J.P. Nolan (52), Seán Harmon for Kirwan (55), Jack Reid for Baker (55), Seán Byrne for Sargent (60+3).

Referee: James Foley (Carlow).