With championship weather but crowded January, the Tailteann Cup got off to an unfavorable start at Aughrim.
Only time will tell what the future holds for the Tailteann Cup. The noise at last week’s launch, which was attended by players from every participating country except New York and London, was overwhelmingly positive. But history suggests it could be difficult to establish itself.
The Tommy Murphy Cup lasted only five years and died a slow death while essentially being shunned by the teams it was designed to help.
But there is also evidence that a second tier can provide a significant platform. Clare won an All-Ireland ‘B’ title in late 1991 before going for a historic Munster title the following year. And despite its popularity, the Tommy Murphy Cup came in handy.
Wicklow won that competition in 2007, won their first Leinster Championship game at Croke Park the following year and in 2009 they defeated Fermanagh, Cavan and Down in a roller-coaster summer under Mick O’Dwyer. Antrim were Tommy Murphy champions in 2008 and 12 months later played their first Ulster final in 39 years, beating Donegal and Cavan.
Whether the Tailteann Cup can produce similar stories remains to be seen. And in Aughrim, only a few hundred came to see the birth of the new competition.
Saturday afternoon is a difficult time for drawing crowds, but those who were there saw Wicklow find his pace in the second half and produce convincing winners.
The first 35 minutes were a cautious start to the new competition. Waterford played with the help of the breeze but found it difficult to handle and it was Wicklow’s Dean Healy who had the honor of scoring the first goal of the Tailteann Cup. At the other end, Ephie Fitzgerald’s men kicked seven wides before halftime but saw Brian Lynch score two nice points.
Wicklow was much more efficient in front of goal, only kicking two wides throughout the game, but they weren’t exactly fluid in attack early on either. Padraig O’Toole hit holes and Mark Kenny snatched two points but the game felt arduous in the first half as teams battled each other. Wicklow led at one point by four but Waterford did just enough to stay in touch at half-time, trailing 8-0, 5-0.
Wicklow had the breeze in the second half and with their full forward line of Kevin Quinn, Eoin Darcy and Mark Kenny in the car they looked a lot more dangerous. They were four clear before scoring the first goal of the game. Quinn capitulated after a long delivery that hopped over the head of Darcy and his tracer. Quinn hit the net from a tight angle and from there there was no doubt the Garden men would progress.
Wicklow Tails were now up and Darcy grabbed their next goal and ended the game after a selfless play from Quinn. Minutes later, Darcy hit the bar with another try, only to be called off for a point.
Healy was shown a black card but Wicklow remained in control. Goalkeeper Mark Jackson scored four nice points from Frees and used the breeze beautifully to keep the home team going. Quinn scored Wicklow’s third goal from the penalty spot before Brian Looby scored a late consolation for Waterford, but there was no longer any doubt that Wicklow would play the winner of Sunday’s clash between Wexford and Offaly next weekend.
“It’s great to win again at Aughrim, it’s a fortress again,” said Wicklow’s Alan Costello, joint manager of the team alongside Gary Duffy.
“We’ve had some bad games and results this year but after beating Laois here and now Waterford here I know we’re going next week but it’s great we’re making it a fortress again.”
Scorers – Wicklow: K Quinn 2-1 (1-0 penalty) E Darcy 1-3 (2f), M Jackson (4f), M Kenny (1m) 0-4 each, D Healy 0-2, P O’Toole , O McGraynor 0-1 each.
Waterford: J Curry 0-4 (2f), B Looby 1-0, D Corcoran (2f), B Lynch 0-2 each, D Ryan, G Duffy 0-1 each.
Wicklow: M Jackson; M Stone, P O’Keane, T Moran; N Devereux, Z Cullen, O Cullen; P O’Toole, JP Hurley; A Murphy, D Healy, D Fitzgerald; M Kenny, K Quinn, E Darcy SUBS: R Stokes for Hurley (HT), O McGraynor for Fitzgerald (52), J Kirwan for Devereux (53), CO Corrain for O’Sullivan (54), J Treacy for Murphy, M Cullen for Darcy (both 65)
Waterford: A Beresford; L Fennell, DO Cathasaigh, M Kiely; D Ryan, D Hallihan, B Looby; J Curry, M Curry; Murray C, Corcoran D, O’Sullivan J; S Curry, T O’Connell, B Lynch SUBS: J Walsh for S Curry (40), T Guiry for Lynch (47), G Duffy for O’Connell (54), J Keane for Murray (61),
Referee: D Coldrick (Meath)
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/wicklow-kick-off-tailteann-cup-with-win-over-waterford-in-front-of-small-crowd-in-aughrim-41674162.html Wicklow opens the Tailteann Cup with a win over Waterford in front of a small crowd at Aughrim