Saturday 24 February 2018

Wicklow hurlers claim first-ever U-21 B All-Ireland crown

Jackie Cahill at Semple Stadium

Jonathan O’Neill’s Wicklow were crowned Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 B hurling champions for the first time yesterday.

Not even a 2-7 haul from Jack Regan could prevent defeat for 2005 winners Meath in Thurles.

Regan’s second goal two minutes from time ensured a nervy finish for Wicklow but they held on to secure the silverware, with Gavin Weir emerging as top scorer.

Pádraig Doyle’s second half goal gave Wicklow some breathing space, opening up an eight point lead, but Meath showed spirit to fight their way back into contention.

Trailing by 1-9 to 2-14, the Royals refused to yield and after Regan’s second goal, he had a 20m free blocked when a goal would have ensured parity.

Two penalty goals were exchanged at the end of the first half, as Wicklow went in 1-9 to 1-8 ahead.

Regan, Meath’s scorer-in-chief and most impressive player, banged home his penalty in the 29th minute after James Andrews was fouled by Emmet Byrne, an offence that earned the Wicklow corner back a yellow card.

But a minute after registering their opening goal, Meath were picking the ball out of the back of their own net.

Weir, Wicklow’s dead ball specialist, stepped up to hammer home his penalty and hand the Garden County a narrow interval lead.

The sides were level six times during an entertaining opening half, with Meath slightly more profligate in front of goal, registering six wides to Wicklow’s three.

Meath registered the opening score of the game with just 12 seconds on the watch but it was very much nip and tuck for the remainder of the half.

Scorers for Meath: J Regan 2-7 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), L Martyn 0-4, G McGowan 0-2, J Fagan & S Quigley 0-1 each.

Scorers for Wicklow: G Weir 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-2f, 0-1 65), A Byrne 0-4, P Doyle 1-0, Lennon 0-3, D Masterson 0-2, D Staunton, J Byrne, C O’Byrne & J Cranley 0-1 each.

MEATH: C Bird; D Conneely, L Rickard, C McGrath; C O’Shea, S Whitty, E Ryan; L Martyn, S Kelly; J Fagan, J Regan, J Andrews; G McGowan, F Flattery, S Quigley.

Subs: S Doyle for Flattery (37), C Shirren for Ryan (49).

WICKLOW: R Fitzgerald; S O’Callaghan, J Doyle, E Byrne; L Maloney, D Staunton, D Henderson; D Masterson, M Lennon; G Weir, A Byrne, P Doran; J Byrne, P Doyle, C O’Byrne.

Subs: D Lohan for Weir (47), J Cranley for O’Byrne (48), A Kavanagh for A Byrne (55), J Tallon for Henderson (60).

Referee: D Hughes (Carlow)

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