Lee points way in Garden County triumph
Wicklow 0-23 Down 1-18 NHL Division 2B Final
WICKLOW upset the odds to gain promotion at Pairc Tailteann, Navan.
The Garden County led throughout. Mikey Lee was the star with 10 points, eight from frees. He contributed seven points in the opening half as Wicklow led 0-12 to 0-9 at the break.
They started at a terrific pace with four points in as many minutes and soon opened up a 0-6 to 0-1 lead.
Down responded with frees from Conor Woods and Johnny McCusker and with Conor O'Neill scoring a brace they eventually reduced the deficit to the minimum, 0-10 to 0-9.
Wicklow finished the half stronger with further points from Lee and Christy Moorehouse before doubling their advantage within two minutes of the restart through Wayne O'Gorman, Daniel Staunton and Andy O'Brien.
Down's Scott Nicholson made an instant impact off the bench, blasting to the net to leave the minimum between the sides.
The Ulster side were unable to gain parity, though, and O'Brien, O'Gorman and Lee got points in reply. The lead eventually stretched to five but was back to the minimum following McCusker's sixth free of the contest late on.
Lee's added-time free made certain of victory in a tense conclusion which was marred by a couple of unsavoury incidents.
Down midfielder Fintan Conway was shown a red card and then lashed out at an opponent before leaving the pitch. Wicklow also finished with 14 as Moorehouse received a straight red card just before the final whistle.
SCORERS – Wicklow: M Lee 0-10 (8fs), W O'Gorman 0-4, D Staunton, A O'Brien 0-3 each, C Moorehouse 0-2, J O'Neill 0-1. Down: J McCusker 0-6 (6fs), S Nicholson 1-1, C Woods 0-4 (2fs, 1 '65'), C O'Neill, D Toner, C O'Prey 0-2 each, S Ennis 0-1.
WICKLOW – T Kennedy 6; E Dunne 7, S Kelly 8, B Cuddihy 6; G Byrne 7, L Kennedy 7, S Byrne 7; J Henderson 7, R Keddy 7; C Moorehouse 7, D Staunton 7, J O'Neill 7; M Lee 9, W O'Gorman 8, A O'Brien 7. Subs: J Bermingham 6 for Cuddihy (50), TJ Hennessy for Keddy (70).
DOWN – S Keith 6; M Conlan 7, P Flynn 7, M Hughes 6; B Nicholson 7, C Woods 7, P Hughes 6; S Ennis 7, F Conway 7; S Dineen 6, C O'Neill 7, D Hughes 7; C O'Prey 7; D Toner 7, J McCusker 8. Subs: R Brannigan 7 for P Hughes (h-t), S Nicholson 8 for Dineen (42), M Turley 6 for O'Neill (49), P Sheehan for O'Prey (62), E Clarke for M Hughes (66).
REF – J Keane (Galway)
Who is your sportstar of the year?
Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.
Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.