Wicklow booked their place in the final of the Christy Ring Cup thanks to a closely fought victory over neighbours Kildare at Aughrim, in a game that finished 3-11 to 2-11.
Fresh from winning their Allianz Hurling League Divison 3A title, Wicklow came flying out of the traps and had a four point lead within the first 20 minutes at O’Byrne Park in Aughrim.
Billy White opened the scoring with a point from a free but Wicklow answered that when Ronan Keddy, Jonathon ‘Bosco’ O’Neill, and Enan Glynn all added their names to the score sheet early on.
Kildare pulled it back to a close lead however, thanks to White, captain Tony Murphy and some great goalkeeping from Lilywhite keeper Robbie Connolly, who managed to keep out a blocked chance from Andy O’Brien.
Wicklow’s first half goals came from Don Hyland and Jeffrey Bermingham, whose effort from way out managed to elude Kildare keeper Connolly.
Kildare kept up the pace with a goal from David Harney thanks to a set-up from influential captain Murphy.
Kildare will have felt they did well to only be five points behind at half time after playing into the wind for the first half, the score standing at 2-07 to 1-05 in Wicklow’s favour at the break.
Kildare stayed in touch to still be in contention for the win in the second half and will have been buoyed by their quarter final hammering over Derry a few weeks ago and with last year’s defeat at the hands of Westmeath in mind.
Leighton Glynn, who will also turn out for the Wicklow footballers tomorrow in Portlaoise against Kildare, made the difference from the bench in the second half with a point and an assist for his brother Enan who clinched the decisive third goal after a mistake from Kildare corner back John Doran.
Leighton Glynn’s presence was welcomed after Kildare started the second half with the wind behind them, eventually cutting the home side only one point ahead as the scores stood at 2-08 to 1-10, courtesy of points from Leo Quinn, Kieran Divilly and Tony Murphy.
The second half require Kildare keeper Connolly to come up with some more quick reactions when he denied Andy O’Brien again, but couldn’t keep out the point from the ‘65’ that resulted from his well timed block, which was scored by O’Neill.
The sides went level courtesy of another point from Billy White but points from O’Neill and substitute Leighton Glynn saw Wicklow go back in front.
After Doran’s defensive mistake allowed Leighton to cross for his brother Enan, the hosts had some room to breathe but this didn’t stop Kildare from making a last effort for themselves and trying to salvage something from the game.
Once again Billy White was at the centre of the move that saw one of his long frees finishing in the Wicklow net.
It wasn’t enough however and Kildare will feel their profligacy in the second half cost them as they ended up with 11 wides in the second period.
Wicklow hung on for the win and will now meet Kerry in the final.
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