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Arklow best in the battle of the Towns

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Arklow Town 3 Wicklow Town 1

Ten-men Arklow Town secured their place in the Wicklow Cup final on Sunday morning as they beat league champions Wicklow Town at Pat O’Toole Park.
Wicklow Town were on a high from winning the Division 1 league last weekend when they got a point against Shamrock Celtic and went into the game as possible favourites to reach the final.
The winners of the semi-final game at Pat O’Toole Park would play Avonmore in the final who came out on top on Saturday with a 3-0 win over Wicklow Rovers at Travers Insurance Park.
There was an opening goal within the first five minutes of the game, a long ball over the top by Conor Breslin was controlled by striker Chris Furlong before slotting the ball past Brendan Cox in the Wicklow Town goal.
What a start from the Arklow side who looked well up for it right from the first whistle.
Two minutes later and Town had their second goal, a free-kick delivered to the front post was met by the head of Jack Darcy, whose diving header flew into the top corner. Great movement by Darcy to beat his man and head his side into a comfortable position in a fast paced semi-final.
Wicklow Town were struggling at the back and were letting Arklow flood their final third, but despite the heavy pressure and against the run of play they grabbed a goal back in the 17th minute.
A free-kick by Mark Whelan was floated into the back post picking out John Connors. Connors headed across the box to midfielder Reece Kelly who nodded home. A lifeline for Town who looked like they may have thrown away their Wicklow Cup hopes in the first ten minutes of the game.
There was a late rally from Wicklow Town, who dominated possession but just couldn’t find that important second goal. They did have a great opportunity to level the score in the final minute of the first half when Whelan whipped in an inviting free-kick to the back post picking out Kelly but his half-volley effort went wide of the post.
The Arklow side were struggling in the early stages of the second half, Wicklow Town were continuing to dominate the ball, chances for Dylan Kavanagh and Nicky Flood went very close to equalising and was a wake-up call for the Arklow backline.
Wicklow Town striker Aziz Koroma did manage to put the ball in the back of the net on the hour mark after a goal-line scramble, but referee David Jameson blew his whistle for a foul committed in the box before Koroma put the ball over the line.
A bizarre introduction for Arklow substitute Kian Bolder who replaced Chris Furlong in the 75th minute, only to be shown a red card five minutes later for dissent. Arklow were down to ten men with ten minutes left to play, and Wicklow wanted to take advantage.
A late push from the Wicklow Town side made chances for their forward players, Dylan Kavanagh and Scott Sheridan went close with shots from inside the box but Arklow keeper Mervyn Travers used all his experience to keep his side in front and the ball out of his goal.
With Wicklow Town pushing forward this gave the Arklow side a great chance of finding a third goal putting the game to bed. A long throw into the box was met by the head of Phillip Erasmus who nodded the ball up and over Brendan Cox in the Wicklow Town goal. A brilliant counter-attack which came from nothing but meant everything to the Arklow side who were a man down but didn’t let their heads drop.
Wicklow Town kept pushing through added time but they just couldn’t conjure up any goal scoring opportunities, they should have made the most of being a man up in the final ten minutes but the Arklow defence stood firm and held out for the win.
Credit to Arklow who had to dig deep in the second half with the Wicklow Town pressure mounting as they looked for an equaliser but the leadership of Mervyn Travers, who could be heard throughout organising his defence and the performance from Sean Crowley in centre back there was only ever going to be one winner.
Town now look to the final as they will take on the difficult task of facing Avonmore at the Carlisle Grounds.
Arklow Town: 1. Mervyn Travers, 2. Mark Fitzgerald, 3. Nathan Cullen, 4. Matthew Burke, 5. Sean Crowley, 6. Conor Breslin, 7. Ryan Kenny, 8. Phillip Erasmus, 9. Chris Furlong, 10. Aaron Kelly, 11. Jack Darcy. Subs: Dean Doyle for Jack Darcy (30min), Kian Bolger for Chris Furlong (75min).
Wicklow Town: 1. Brendan Cox, 2. Jordan Sinnott, 3. Callum Kelly, 4. Alan Delaney, 5. John Connors, 6. Shane Dunne, 7. Reece Kelly, 8. Mark Whelan, 9. Dylan Kavanagh, 10. Aziz Korma, 11. Nicky Flood. Subs: Scott Sheridan for Nicky Flood (67min).
Referee: David Jameson.

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