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Sunday 21 October 2018

Wicklow fall to lethal Longford

Promising Under-21 side fail to deliver on the big stage

Wicklow's Conor Healy powers past Mattie Gorman in the Longford v Wicklow Leinster Under 21 Football Championship match at Newtowncashel (PHOTO - DAVE BARRETT) *Wicklow GAA Deal*
Wicklow's Conor Healy powers past Mattie Gorman in the Longford v Wicklow Leinster Under 21 Football Championship match at Newtowncashel (PHOTO - DAVE BARRETT) *Wicklow GAA Deal*

Brendan Lawrence

Out-fought, out-muscled, out-foxed, out-ran, out-manoeuvred, that's just some of the descriptions that spring to mind for the Wicklow Under-21's performance against an excellent Longford outfit in Newtowncashel last Wednesday night.

Longford 4-13 to Wicklow 1-05.

After Thomas O'Donoghue's opening score for the visiting side it was all downhill for the Garden county lads as a vastly superior Longford team tore Jonathan Daniels' charges to pieces all over the field.

It's worth mentioning that it was a horrible night and that Wicklow were dragged to the depths of the midlands on a Wednesday but these are not meant as excuses or reasons for the dreadful defeat of what looked to be a very promising side.

As is always the case at underage level in the GAA the Wicklow players were physically smaller and slower than they're opponents.

Longford's Fergal Sheridan in midfield must be one of the biggest players at that level in the entire country. The man is massive.

Larry Moran and Liam Connerton have pace to burn and just could not be contained while the Longford defence were ruthless in the tackle and their ball up the field was swift and direct.

Wicklow on the other hand had anonymous performances from the majority of the players. Apart from John Crowe and David Boothman there is nobody you could really pick out from a Wicklow point of view who managed to take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Wicklow, as had been their way since January, brought Conor Ffrench out as a sweeper behind the midfielders but against the power and pace of the Longford men it was largely ineffectual and Ffrench's man, Conor Shields, was sweeping up at his end and cutting off options for the Wicklow midfielders and half backs who were looking to thread ball through to their inside line.

Longford had two points on the board when a defensive howler in the back line for Wicklow saw a ball passed to Larry Moran who rifled past Andy Murphy.

In fairness to Wicklow they recovered well and Marc Lennon had a wide before David Boothman added two points, one from a free, to leave it 1-02 to 0-03 after 15 minutes.

A lot of the trouble from a Wicklow point of view was coming from the boot and the running of Longford half-back Dessie Reynolds who was exceptional on the night and but for the attacking dominance of Larry Moran would easily be my man of the match.

Reynolds wasn't being monitored closely enough and was gathering break after break and feeding the forwards with clever ball.

Longford had made it 1-05 to 0-03 after 23 minutes when Jonathan Daniels' decided to end Eoin Kelly's nightmare on Larry Moran and Eoghan Marah was introduced.

The aforementioned Moran showed incredible pace to get past the Wicklow defence to fist over and Andrew Dalton fired over for a point when he might easily have had a goal to bring a very poor first half to an end for Wicklow.

Wickleo had the wind for the second half but it was of no real benefit. Longford came out intent on carrying ball through the tackle and they did so with ease and the game was over as a contest after five minutes of the restart when corner-back Conor Shields rampaged up the field and fired home past Murphy to make it 2-07 to 0-03.

Longford moved up through the gears and, despite a very late resurgence from Wicklow, they romped home to a thoroughly deserved victory on a score of 4-13 to 1-05.

LONGFORD: Colm Farrell; Ronan Sweeney, Andrew Farrell, Conor Shields ( 1-0); Dessie Reynolds (0-1), Cian Farrelly, Liam Sullivan; Fergal Sheridan, Andrew Dalton (0-2); Ross McNerney, Emmet Noonan, Shane Kenny (0-1, f); Larry Moran (1-4, 3f), Paddy Kiernan (0-1), Liam Connerton (1-1). Subs:- Rory Connor (1-1) for E Noonan (18 mins); David McGivney for P Kiernan (39 mins); Killian Farrell (0-2) for F Sheridan (45 mins); Patrick Farrell for R McNerney (51 mins); Mattie Gorman for L Sullivan (52 mins); Martin Mulligan for A Farrell (56 mins).

WICKLOW: Andy Murphy; Barry Finan, James Kavanagh, Eoin Kelly; John Crowe (0-1), Daire Lohan, Conor Hatton; David Boothman (0-2, frees), Thomas Donohoe (0-1); Daire Henderson (0-1), Paul Ellis, Patrick Phelan; Conor French, Johnny Delahunt, Marc Lennon (1-0). Subs:- Eoghan Marah for E Kelly (23 mins); Conor Healy for B Finan (half-time); Michael O'Connor for P Ellis (34 mins); Sean O'Brien for J Kavanagh (43 mins); Patrick O'Connor for P Phelan (51 mins).

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