“We broke the 20-point barrier and that was an important target of ours when we set out to play this match, but we weren’t fluent at all and we didn’t play at the same pace as we had done here against Galway and Limerick,” said Tipp native and coach Paidi Butler: “We won both halves and that was another aim we had to be consistent, but I feel we fell below the standard we had set ourselves with our performances earlier this year.
“All that said, I would have been happy with that win if it had been offered to me this morning. We got to use 20 players there as well and the return of Paul Cuddy (after breaking a finger and passing a late fitness test) was very welcome too.”
Really, the only question on anyone’s lips before throw-in was how long Wicklow could keep their heads above water. They managed it for 19 minutes until Brian McCormack got the faintest of touches to Michael McEvoy’s dropping ball to deflect the sliotar past a stranded Keith Snell and into the Wicklow net. Until that, the sides had traded four points each but despite the appearance on the scoreboard, the cracks were already very much in evidence. Laois’ half back line, which is possibly their strongest unit on the field, had starved their markers of any ball.
Further down field, it seemed only a matter of time before Laois registered their first goal and the only surprise is that they only managed the two all afternoon. The second arrived after 27 minutes with Laois already leading by 1-8 to 0-5. Paul Cuddy fired a long ball in from centre-half back and Wicklow’s defence was politeness itself as they stood back and allowed Liam Tynan to finish sweetly past Snell.
The second half was less of a spectacle as the game degenerated into a series of frees and stoppages resulting from a wave of substitutions.
Particularly impressive for the O’Moore men was McCormack who added to his goal with three points and a couple of visionary passes that led directly to points for his team-mates.
Less encouragingly, Laois wracked up 14 wides against a particularly porous defence.
Scorers for Laois: J Young 0-7 frees, B McCormack 1-3, L Tynan 1-3, J Phelan 0-2, R Jones 0-2, P Cuddy 0-2 (65s), P Mahon 0-1, E Maher 0-1, L Wynne 0-1.
Wicklow: J Keogh 0-8 (6 frees, 1 65,), D Hyland 0-1, W O’Gorman 0-1.
LAOIS: J Lyons; L Mahon, Pakie Cuddy, R Delaney; C Cuddy, Paul Cuddy, M McEvoy; J Young, R Jones; J Phelan, P Mahon, E Maher; B McCormack, L Tynan, T Fitzgerald.
Subs: D Culleton for T Fitzgerald 48, P Drennan for M McEvoy 49, L Wynne for R Jones 54, D Rooney for P Cuddy 66, C Coleman for R Delaney 71.
WICKLOW: K Snell; MJ O’Neill, G Keogh, G Birmingham; L Kennedy, MA O’Neill, T McGrath; G Dorran, C O’Toole; D Moran, J Murphy, J Keogh; D Hyland, W O’Gorman, T Collins. Subs: E Kennedy for D Moran 47, R O’Brien for L Kennedy 55, E O’Sullivan for T McGrath 69.
Referee: D Murphy (Wexford).
Mayo hurlers made history yesterday when they qualifed for Division 2 of the National Hurling League by beating Sligo in a hard-fought Division 3 final at McHale Park, Castlebar.
Mayo’s ability to strike crucial goals proved to be the difference against a wasteful Sligo side who shot 12 wides in all, but it was a fitter and more focused Mayo side who richly deserved their victory.
Scorers: Mayo - P. Higgins 1-2; S. Ganley 1-1; D. McDonnell 0-2; G. Whyte 0-2; K. Healy 0-2; D. McConn 0-1 S. Broderick 0-1. Sligo - P. Seevers 0-6; P. Barry 1-2; F. Cretaro 1-0.
MAYO: M. Walsh; P. Lynch, J. Duffy, B. Delaney; D. Walsh, P. Barrett, G. Corcoran; E. Shaughnessey, P. Broderick; S. Broderick, D. McConn, K. Healy; G. Whyte , D. McDonnell, P. Higgins.
Subs: S. Ganley for G. Corcoran, P. Hunt for E. Shaughnessey.
SLIGO: M. Gorman; T. O’Brien, F. Hayes, T. Cawley; J. Connors, M. Burke, K. Carden; D Colery, S. Wade; P. Severs, P. Barry, D. Kirby; M,. Gordon, J. Burke, F. Cretaro.
Referee: J. McGrath (Westmeath)