General Lee in charge
CASEY O'BRIEN and the Wicklow Hurlers got the new season off to a good start with a win over Mayo in the Kehoe Cup in a game played in very pleasant conditions at the new Bray Emmets pitch on Sunday.
Casey O'Brien and the Wicklow Hurlers got the new season off to a good start with a win over Mayo in the Kehoe Cup in a game played in very pleasant conditions at the new Bray Emmets pitch on Sunday.
There was a fairly stiff breeze blowing in to the town end goal but the sun was high in the sky, making this the best day so far this year for playing, or watching a match. While Wicklow always looked the better side they only sealed victory in the closing minutes with, fittingly enough a goal by the new captain Wayne O'Gorman.
Mayo got off to a good start with wing forward, Kenny Freeney, getting them on the score board in the fifth minute; the number 12 added a second point a minute later and after Mikey Lee had pointed a free to get Wicklow on the score board it was Feeney that was on the mark again when he drove a mighty free from over 80 meters all the way to the net.
That score was nothing short of s tragedy. A blinding sun was shining straight the eves of the keeper as that mighty puck, helped on by the wind dropped just under the bar.
He really did not have a hope but fair dues he did not let that bother him and went on to play a very good game.
That score left Mayo leading be 1-2 to 0-1 with less than 10 minutes gone. Only some great defending by veteran Geoffrey Bermingham and a few timely interventions by Billy Cuddidy was keeping the home side in the game at that stage.
Wicklow had got their first point from a Mikey Lee free in the eighth minute and stung by that setback lifted their game.
A point by Wayne O'Gorman and further points by Lee in the 13th, 16th and 20th minutes brought the sides level for the first time. Christy Moorhouse cut through to put over a point that give Wicklow the lead for the first time in the 23rd minute and a minute later they got their first goal.
Daniel Staunton was doing great work out on the right wing and got the ball into Wayne O'Gorman; the captain spotted full forward T.J. Hennessy loose on the left, picked him out with a spot on cross and the big Carnew lad fairly blasted the net.
Mayo had not scored for a full 15 minutes. That score roused them from their slumbers and they tacked on three more points.
Wicklow pulled away again in the closing minutes of the half; in the 27th minute Lee pointed another free and a nice score from George O'Brien and one each by midfielder, Aaron Nugent, and Lee again left Casey's men in a nice position.
With minutes to go another goal by Christy Moorhouse sent Wicklow in leading by 2-10 to 1-6 at half time.
Turning over to play with wind advantage in the second half Wicklow looked certain of an easy victory.
However it did not turn out that way - does it ever? The wind had died down; Mayo lifted their game and began to put the pressure on a fairly experimental Wicklow defence.
A point by their stand out player Kenny Feeney followed be a goal by full forward, Derek McDonnell, put the men of the west right back in the match.
Wicklow were struggling and only got one more point in the third quarter, that one scored by Lee again from another free. The number 12, Feeney, was now causing great problems on the left wing.
Casey brought on Benny Byrne of Avondale for Nugent and sent in Peter Keane for Dunne in a bid to tighten his defence. Twice Mayo got the deficit down to a single point, Feeney scoring another goal and adding a point, but they could never close the gap.
Mikey Lee pointed a difficult free in the 30th minute and then George O'Brien sent over another to put three between the sides again.
Victory was in sight but only if Feeney and company could be held out in the closing minutes. Then Wayne O'Gorman played his captain's card when he finished off Wicklow's third goal to seal victory.
The spade work for that goal was done by late, late substitute, Andy O'Brien, and it was from his centre that the goal chance came.
Geoffrey Bermingham was the outstanding defender afield in the first half. Liam Kennedy was solid as ever in the centre. 'Chester' had a good game at midfield but a high fielder was missed in the area.
The real newcomers on the team, Dan Nolan, Luke Maloney, and George O'Brien did reasonably well. Wayne O'Gorman, could, on this display, give the team the leadership it needs but of course the match winner was Mikey Lee.
For a side short of strong players like Eamonn Kearns, Ronan Keddy, Brian Osbourne, the college tied John Henderson and the master himself, Jonathan O'Neill, this was not a bad display.
Wicklow now take on Meath at a Meath venue, most likely Trim, next Sunday and are sure to find the going much tougher.
Scorers - Wicklow: Wayne 0'Gorman 1-3; Christy Moorhouse 1-2; T.J. Hennessy 1-0; Mikey Lee 0-7; George O'Brien 0-3. Stephen Kelly and Aaron Nugent 0-1 each.
Mayo: Kernny Feeney 2-6; Derek McDonnell 1-1; Brian Higgins, Stephen Hoban, Kevin Kenna 0-1 and Fergal Boland 0-1 each.