Jamie Kelly the hero as first-half goal clinches the WDFL Premier title for St. Peter’s!

Three titles on the trot for Shane Greene’s outfit

Premier Division winners St. Peter's FC.

Gavin FordeWicklow People

St. Peter’s FC 1

Arklow Town 0

St. Peter’s clinched the WDFL Premier Division title on Wednesday night last with Jamie Kelly’s first-half header proving the difference against Arklow Town in Bray. It’s the third consecutive crown for Shane Greene’s charges and, incredibly, is the seventh overall under the guidance of Greene and Willy Earls, and the second three-in-a-row, the first being 2005, 20006 and 2007. The achievement in 2023 is nothing short of superb given that with five games played, the defending champions were 15 points behind Arklow Town who had played nine and were on 23. But an impressive record of nine wins, three draws and just a single defeat put St. Peter’s on top of the Wicklow soccer summit yet again with 30 points after 13 games played while the Travers Insurances Park men finished three behind on 27 after 14 fixtures. There was a great competitive edge to the game right from the first whistle. A win from St. Peter’s would confirm them as champions and Arklow Town wanted to do everything possible to stop that happening as they needed a win to at least get a play-off for the league title.

Jamie Kelly celebrates his goal against Arklow Town that clinched the Premier title for St. Peter's.

The away side had a great chance to open the scoring with 15 minutes on the clock when a cross-field ball from Sean Crowley picked out winger Rhys Lacey who controlled the ball before firing toward goal, but his effort went just over the crossbar. Five minutes later Arklow Town went inches away from taking the lead. A corner from Lacey to the front post was met by Joe Ledwith who side footed the ball, but his strike smacked off the crossbar. Inches away from going ahead. The travelling side continued their pressure in the St. Peter’s final third, Conor Smith thought he had done enough to open the scoring for his side when his close-range effort was flying into the roof of the net until Niall Vaughan got a hand to the strike to tip it around the post. A superb save from the St. Peter’s keeper to keep the score level in the 27th minute. The home side took the lead completely against the run of play, they won a corner in the 32nd minute which was whipped in by midfielder Shane O’Neill and was met by the head of Jamie Kelly who nodded past Keith Manley in the Arklow goal. It was poor defending by the away side who let Kelly go unmarked on the penalty spot to head home the opening goal. After the break Town had seemed to have lost their momentum after conceding the goal. The away side were happy to sit on their one-goal lead and to park the bus which made it difficult for Arklow Town to grab a goal back. Paddy Walker and Dave Kealy came off the bench to try and add more attacking threat in St. Peter’s final third. Kevin O’Regan tested Vaughan from long range as his effort from outside the box looked to be tucking into the bottom corner before Vaughan got down to get fingertips to O’Regan’s strike. Town were very lucky not to be down to ten men in the 82nd minute when substitute Kyle Dowling took down striker Chad Ryan who was clean through on goal. Dowling feared the worst but luckily escaped with just a yellow card. Despite the constant pressure from Arklow Town they just couldn’t find a way past a well organised St. Peter’s side, who put all their players behind the ball for the final ten minutes. Huge relief from the home side when Gavin Colfer blew the final whistle to secure another league title.

Jamie Kelly of St. Peter's battles for possession with Quentin O'Reilly.

They also have a great chance of gaining more silverware as they have two semi-finals to go this season. First up is the Jim McLaughlin Cup semi-final where they take on Glencormac at Ryder’s Field on May 24, and then the Wicklow Cup semi-final when they face Shamrock Celtic at Travers Insurances Park on Sunday, May 28, in the 11.30am kick-off. Arklow Town will be frustrated at not being able to go all the way in the league, but they have a chance at winning silverware themselves when they take on Avonmore in the Wicklow Cup semi-final on Sunday at Shamrock Park. They may have another shot at St. Peter’s if they find a way past Avonmore in the semi-final, and if St. Peters beat Shamrock Celtic in their last-four battle. St. Peter’s: 1. Niall Vaughan, 2. Ryan Greene, 3. Davey Derry, 4. Tony Harris, 5. Des Kelly, 6. Shane O’Neill, 7. Jake Kane, 8. Killian O’Carroll, 9. Chad Ryan, 10. Jamie Kelly, 11. Darren Lacey. Sub: D.Fletcher for J. Kane (80). Arklow Town: 1. Keith Manley, 2. Ciaran Burke, 3. Quentin O’Reilly, 4. Nathan Doyle, 5. Sean Crowley, 6. Conor Breslin, 7. Rhys Lacey, 8. Kevin O’Regan, 9. Ryan Kenny, 10. Conor Smith, 11. Joe Ledwith. Subs: Paddy Walker for C. Breslin (55), Dave Kealy for N. Doyle (55), K. Dowling for R. Lacey (70). Referee: Gavin Colfer