Saturday 20 January 2018

Early goals give Garden the edge

Two early goals for Wicklow proved incredibly important as Armagh came worryingly close to upsetting the home team in Aughrim on Sunday afternoon.

Two early goals for Wicklow proved incredibly important as Armagh came worryingly close to upsetting the home team in Aughrim on Sunday afternoon.

Wicklow manager, Casey O'Brien, was the picture of outrage at various times throughout this keenly fought contest as he watched his team cough up possession, make basic errors, and come close to defeat against a hardworking Orchard County.

A bare sprinkling of supporters were in attendance in the county grounds when Carlow referee, David Hughes, threw in the ball for this NHL Division 2B game where a win was vital for the Wicklow after their recent loss to Down.

But it was Armagh who were first out of the blocks with three points in quick succession including two frees from the very accurate Matthew Lennon who would finish up with seven points on the day.

But then Wicklow hit back with two goals. The first was an opportunistic and fortunate affair after Daniel Staunton's effort for a point came back off the upright. Corner forward Mikie Lee couldn't connect but the ball spilled to the prowling Wayne O'Gorman who pulled hard and sent the ball to the back of the net after six minutes.

Armagh's Declan Coulter chalked up his second wide immediately after this and then a ground stroke by John Henderson saw the sprightly Christy Moorehouse gather, round his man, bear down on goal and unleash a mighty stroke to the back of Simon Doherty's net.

Wicklow had switched Moorehouse with Daniel Staunton from the start with Staunton, wearing 15, slipping out to half forward while Moorehouse joined O'Gorman and Lee in the full forward line.

But Armagh took the blows well and hit back with a Lennon pointed free and a lovely hand flick by midfielder Kieran McKernan to Declan Coulter resulted in the centre half forward's third wide of the day with only nine minutes on the clock.

A stray pass from Ronan Keddy to Armagh midfielder Fiachra Bradley saw Armagh clock up their fifth point soon after before a fine catch by Wicklow's John Henderson and the subsequent pass to Mikie Lee saw Armagh keeper, Doherty, called into action again.

But Armagh were putting Wicklow under all sorts of pressure thanks in no small part to the home side's rapidly growing error count.

Excellent work from Mikie Lee provided Moorehouse with the chance of a score and the Bray man didn't disappoint and after Gary Byrne was shown a yellow card he gathered possession, passed to Moorehouse who found Wayne O'Gorman who fired over to leave the score at 2-02 to 0-05 for Wicklow after 16 minutes.

A John Henderson point was quickly cancelled out by a Lennon effort at the other end before Liam Kennedy and Wayne O'Gorman picked up yellow cards arising from separate incidents.

Mikie Lee fired over two frees as the opening half ticked on and Lennon provided a reply for Armagh before Christy Moorehouse banged over two beauties with the second effort an outstanding strike from out near the sideline on the stand side.

A Conor Corvan effort after he rounded Billy Cuddihy was cancelled out by another Lee free to leave the score at halftime, Wicklow 2-07 to Armagh's 0-09.

Conor Corvan had an Armagh poiny seconds after the restart but the very busy Mikie Lee replied for Wicklow. Peter Keane and TJ Hennessy were then introduced for Wicklow with Billy Cuddihy and Benny Byrne making way.

Lee stretched Wicklow's lead before two Armagh scores left Wicklow leading by only three points. A high tackle by Stephen Kelly saw him pick up a yellow card and Lennon pointed the resulting free but Wicklow rallied with points from O'Gorman and Staunton before Casey O'Brien made a major call by withdrawing TJ Hennessy and sending in Aaron Nugent with five minutes left on the clock.

Armagh full forward Shea Gaffney fired over before a Lee free kept the lead at three points. This was almost wiped out when Conor Corvan fired for the Wicklow goal but Ted Kennedy was alert and saved. Moments later Daniel Staunton fired over at the other end and a final effort from Mikie Lee from a free brought the scoring to an end and saw Wicklow collect some vital points and leave them in second spot with Meath behind leaders Down with the long journey to Castlebar to look forward to next Sunday.

Wicklow People

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