Wicklow beaten in Down
Garden County hurlers exit Christy Ring Cup after heavy defeat away in Ballycran
One of Wicklow's worst runs in the Christy Ring Cup came to a disappointing end in Ballycran on Saturday when, again, they failed to get their game together. Wicklow generally do well against Down, whether it be home or away, but not on this occasion.
Down 1-19 - Wicklow 0-13
Their tale of woe continued in County Down and while Casey O'Brien tried every trick he knew it was all in vain on this occasion. They were simply out played and put to the sword by a well-drilled home side.
Daniel Staunton got the first point of the match but that was Wicklow's only time to show in front in this match.
Down began picking off the points from long range and winning frees which the accurate full-forward Gareth Johnson was pointing at his ease, whatever the distance or the angle. A point from play by Christy Moorehouse was Wicklow's only other score in the first quarter.
Down, with the wind in their backs, dominated the rest of the first half with Johnson bringing his first half total to 0-5 and all but one of the other front runners getting their names in the score sheet.
Down's dominance in that half was clear cut and they went in leading by 0-14 to 0-5 at half-time. Wicklow did apply some pressure in the closing stages.
Andy O'Brien had a shot from a free waved wide by the umpire - but he was over-ruled by the referee who allowed the point after consulting a linesman.
Wicklow pulled back a few points midway through the second half; Leighton Glynn had a mighty strike from his own half of the field in the first minute and that brought a glimmer of hope.
Could we turn that strong enough wind to our advantage? The forwards were been fairly well tied down by a close marking defence but over lapping corner-back Eugene Dunne moved through the field to send over a good point.
But at the height of the Wicklow pressure the Down goalie made a great save from Andy O'Brien to deny Wicklow a goal they so badly needed.
He was to bring off another great save later and add to Wicklow's woes.
In the end it must be admitted that Casey's men never got close enough to really worry Michael Johnson's side. A late goal by number 10 Chris Egan sealed victory for Down and made the score sheet look that bit worse.
Wicklow decided to start without two of the team named in the programme, Jonathan O'Neill and Liam Kennedy, and brought on Enan Glynn and Anto Byrne.
Ronan Keddy made his return to the team after missing most of the action this year through injury. While he was a bit ring rusty he did put big a good hour and will be a welcome addition to the team as Casey bids to avoid relegation.
Mikey Lee. John Connors, and Gavin Weir were brought on during the second half in a bid to beef up the attack but the gain was, at best, marginal.
Wicklow's next outing will be a relegation play-off against the losers of the Mayo v Kildare game. So there you have the reigning Ring Cup holders now fighting, like Wicklow, to avoid relegation.
Even if they lose that match they still have another chance against the Nicky Rackard Cup winners.
Scorers - Down: Gareth Johnson 0-6; Chris Egan 1-3; Steven Dineen, Fintan Conway and Danny Toner 0-2 each; Paul Sheehan and Michael Turley 0-1.
Wicklow: Andy O'Brien 0-4; Leighton Glynn 0-2; Christy Moorehouse, Anto Byrne, Eamonn Kearns, Eugene Dunne, Mikey Lee, Daniel Staunton and Enan Glynn 0-1 each.
Wicklow: Ted Kennedy; Eugene Dunne, Billy Cuddity, Peter Keane; Luke Maloney, Stephen Kelly, Enan Glynn; Eamonn Kearns, Tommy Doyle; Christy Moorehouse, Leighton Glynn, Ronan Keddy; Anto Byrne, Andy O'Brien, Daniel Staunton.
Subs: Mikey Lee for Byrne; John Connors for Staunton; Gavin Weir for Moorhouse.
Ronan Keddy was also replaced for a short time by a blood sub but resumed after treatment to play on.
Down: Stephen Keith; Matt Conlon, Padraig Flynn, Michael Hughes; Declan McManus, Conor Woods, Michael McCullough; Fintan Conway, Donal Hughes; Chris Egan, Danny Toner, Steven Dineen; Paul Sheehan, Gareth Johnson, James Coyle.
Referee: Owen Elliott, Antrim.