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Wicklow Blues through to face Laois in Celtic Challenge final

Big win over Antrim for talented squad

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The Wicklow Blue team who defeated Antrim in the Corn William Robinson semi-final.

The Wicklow Blue team who defeated Antrim in the Corn William Robinson semi-final.

The Wicklow Blue team who defeated Antrim in the Corn William Robinson semi-final.

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Wicklow Blues 5-16

Antrim 1-8

Anyone looking for positivity or hope in Wicklow hurling in the week when the Senior side suffered relegation to the Nicky Rackard Cup need only focus their attention on the Wicklow Blue Minor side who toppled Antrim in the Corn William Robinson semi-final in Abbotstown last weekend.

As well as the Gold side securing their place in the Celtic Challenge final, Dara Kissane’s Blue outfit impressed when storming to victory over the Saffrons to earn a shot at Laois in the final on June 4 at the same venue.

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This team has quality hurlers all over the field, from the formidable Tristan Doherty in goals to the powerful Sean Kenny at full-back with Liam Murphy and Andrew Lynch alongside, from Michael Óg O’Neill at centre-back flanked by the very useful Zach Jordan and Denis O’Brien to the very impressive midfield pairing of Sean Byrne and Riaín Waters, from the talented James Boland, Cillian Ryder and Willie Cash to the more than capable Alex Kavanagh, Brandon Rossiter and Johnno Moorehouse. Throw in substitutes of the calibre of Jack O’Toole, Rory Corrigan, Andrew Lynch, Lorcan Byrne, Luke Byrne, Adam O’Farrell and Mikey O’Brien Hatton and you have a panel of some of the best hurlers in the county.

And it’s the style of their hurling as well as their hunger for work and their physical size and power that would give cause for genuine optimism in what has been a bleak time for hurling at inter-county level in Wicklow.

Granted, these are not the first teams from either Antrim or Laois but it is still a very decent level of competition and can only help these young hurlers on their pathway to adult hurling with their clubs and hopefully the county.

Early wastefulness against a useful looking Antrim outfit was ended when James Boland tapped home for a goal after a long run with five on the clock on a beautiful day at Abbotstown.

The electric Johnno Moorehouse bagged a second major moments later and Wicklow were off to a flying start. Indeed, Cillian Ryder had a shot saved by Antrim shotstopper Andrew McStay shortly afterwards as the Garden County lads went for the jugular early on.

Two James Boland points and a wicked score from Moorehouse after a tasty sideline ball from the unstoppable Willie Cash opened up a 2-3 to 0-1 lead after 17 with Roan McGarry getting Antrim off the mark from a free.

Things were looking bleak for the Saffrons after 23 when Brandon Rossiter rifled home to the back of the net for Wicklow’s third goal after good work from Moorehouse to follow on from a Willie Cash point to make it 3-4 to 0-2.

An Antrim major threatened to spark a revival of sorts but Wicklow rallied and after two wides bagged the next three points on the trot, the first from Alex Kavanagh after a lovely run, James Boland thanks to a sublime ball from Michael Óg O’Neill and a Cash free after a foul on the willing Brandon Rossiter.

Wicklow Blue took a 3-7 to 1-3 lead into the half-time break.

Dara Kissane had the luxury of introducing Jack O’Toole at this stage and the Kiltegan man brought plenty of power and energy to the party, grabbing two points along the way.

Antrim did start the better on the return, adding two points to make it 3-7 to 1-5 but Wicklow were always able to counter superbly, and added another six points on the trot, Cash with four, Cillian Ryder and Rossiter with the others.

Antrim rallied with three points of their own, but Johnno Moorehouse put an end to that revival when he scored a beautiful goal after a long Michael Óg O’Neill free. It was a really superb goal from the St Patrick’s man.

Jack O’Toole pounced for his two screamers after that, and Alex Kavanagh would cap a hardworking display with a tasty goal of his own as Wicklow Blue ran out comfortable winners by 5-16 to 1-8 to set up that Celtic Challenge final clash with Laois.

Wicklow: Tristan Doherty (Bray Emmets); Liam Murphy (Arklow Rock Parnells), Sean Kenny (Bray Emmets), Andrew Lynch (Glenealy); Zach Jordan (Carnew Emmets), Michael Óg O’Neill (Glenealy), Denis O’Brien (St Patrick’s); Sean Byrne (Kilcoole), Riaín Waters (Donard-The Glen); James Boland (1-3) (Kiltegan), Cillian Ryder (0-1) (Bray Emmets), Willie Cash (0-6, 3f) (Kilcoole); Alex Kavanagh (1-1) (Aughrim), Brandon Rossiter (1-1) (Carnew Emmets), Johnno Moorehouse (2-1) (St Patrick’s). Subs: Jack O’Toole (0-2) for A Lynch, Rory Corrigan for D O’Brien, Andrew Lynch for Z Jordan (inj), Lorcan Byrne for W Cash, Luke Byrne (0-1) for Brandon Rossiter, Adam O’Farrell for J Moorehouse, Mikey O’Brien Hatton for T Doherty.

Antrim: Andrew McStay; Conal Shortt, Cian Baudant, John Scullion; Oisin Woodhouse, Charlie McCauley, Padraig Martin; Colm Boyle, Reece Cunning; Corey Walsh, Peadar McDonnell (0-1, f), Callum Cane (1-0); Calum McIlwaine, Ben O’Kane (0-3), Roan McGarry (0-4, 2f). Subs: Odhran Morghan Lyttle for P Martin, Odhran Cosgrove for C McAuley, Rory Dunne for C McIlwaine, Shea Cunningham for C Shortt, Corey Camlin for L McFerran

Referee: Jason Buckley (Dublin)


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