Wicklow find the extra gears
Utterly strange day in the football bearpit that is Aughrim. Wicklow held sway, comfortably enough in the end, sweeping a 15-man Waterford aside in extra-time in a swash-buckling fashion that had somehow evaded them against 14 in normal time. It was a credit to Waterford that they had held out so defiantly for so long. The fitter and the better team won, though. Ultimately, it was as simple as that.
Wicklow will wonder about that. Everything seemed to be in place for a swift and summary execution early in the second half. They had turned in for the interval three points behind but within three minutes of the restart they had obliterated it. Then Conor McGraynor, a half-time sub for Austin O'Malley, rippled the net and they had surged two points clear.
Yet the impetus provided by McGraynor was less than it might have been. Wicklow went 20 minutes without scoring while the 14 men dug in and clawed their way back into the game.
Waterford had their numbers reduced when full-forward Paul Hurney was sent off following an off-the-ball tussle with Anthony McLoughlin with just 26 minutes played. Hurney marched off without too many complaints.
With 24 minutes left, a John McGrath '45' pushed Wicklow ahead but Mark Ferncombe struck back instantly for Waterford. When Paul Whyte pushed the visitors in front, Wicklow began to panic and it took the excellent Alan Byrne to pop up from corner-back and edge the game into extra-time.
It was only then that Wicklow made their superior class count. Even restored to a full complement of 15, Waterford didn't have the gas for another 20 minutes. They added just three extra-time points while Wicklow kept pushing forward at the other end. Four unanswered points between the fifth and ninth minutes of the first period effectively settled things.
All Wicklow had to do in the second period was keep the scoreboard ticking over and that's what they did: points from McGraynor, Niall Gaffney and James Stafford easing Wicklow home.
Scorers -- Wicklow: C McGraynor 1-2, J McGrath (1 '45), J Kelly 0-3 each, S Furlong (1f), T Hannon (1f) 0-2 each, A Byrne, D Hayden, N Gaffney, J Stafford, N Mernagh 0-1 each. Waterford: P Hurney 0-5, P Whyte (2f, 1 '45), M Ferncombe (1f) 0-3 each, S Briggs, T Grey, G Hurney, JJ Hutchinson 0-1 each
Wicklow: J Flynn; A Byrne, A McLoughlin, S Kelly; D Hayden, S Byrne, D Healy; J Stafford, P Burke; D O'Sullivan, J McGrath, R Finn; A O'Malley, S Furlong, T Hannon. Subs: N Gaffney for D Hayden (70), P Dalton for D Healy (83), D Woods for J Stafford (86), N Mernagh for P Burke (66), C McGraynor for A O'Malley (h-t), J Kelly for T Hannon (h-t).
Waterford: S Enright; M O'Gorman, T O'Gorman, K Connery; T Grey, S Briggs, W Hennessy; S Dempsey, P Hurney; L ó Lionnáin, P Whyte, A Doyle; M Ferncombe, G Hurney, JJ Hutchinson. Subs: A Brophy for P Hurney (86), C McGrath for L ó Lionnáin (61), G Nugent for P Whyte (83), T ó hUallcháin for JJ Hutchinson (70).
Referee: P O'Sullivan (Kerry)
Sunday Indo Sport