With two 13-point wins over Wicklow under their belt in the past year, Kerry were shocked by Casey O’Brien’s men in their opening defence of their Christy Ring Cup title at Arklow on Saturday.
John Meyler’s team had a tonic start with a gift of a goal by wing-forward Michael Boyle after just two minutes but found the tight marking, passion and spirit shown by the home side too much to handle.
And their defence took a roasting from Wicklow’s lethal inside strike force, corner-forward Andy O’Brien and full-forward Jonathan ‘Bosco’ O’Neill who caused havoc as they racked up a massive 1-16.
On five minutes Andy O’Brien countered Boyle’s opening goal for Kerry and when Wayne O’Gorman sneaked home Wicklow’s second goal following a line-ball by Jonathan O’Neill, Wicklow were in the driving seat as they led 2-9 to 1-6 at half-time.
Only back from injury a week earlier, Jonathan O’Neill was on top of his game as he scored 0-11 for Wicklow with eight of those points coming from frees.
Shane Nolan hit Kerry’s second goal eight minutes from the end to narrow the gap to three points, 2-17 to 2-14, but still they could not break the resolve and defiance of a brave Wicklow team.
Scorers for Wicklow: J O’Neill 0-11 (8fs), A O’Brien 1-5, W O’Gorman 1-0, E Kearns 0-2, R Keddy, C Moorehouse 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: S Nolan 1-3, M Boyle 1-1, S Brick (3fs), D O’Connell (1f) 0-4 each, W O’Dwyer 0-3.
WICKLOW: J Murphy; J Connors, G Keogh, B Cuddihy; J Henderson, S Kelly, G Bermingham; E Kearns, R Keddy; T Doyle, W O’Gorman, E Dunne; E Glynn, J O’Neill, A O’Brien.
Subs: C Moorehouse for W O’Gorman.
KERRY: B Rochford; J Godley, T Murnane, R Horgan; A O’Connor, P Costello, L Boyle; D Dineen, J Griffin; M Boyle, W O’Dwyer, D O’Connell; S Brick, P Boyle, S Nolan.
Subs: J Flaherty for P Boyle.
Referee: D Hughes (Carlow).
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