Down manager Ross Carr rued the fact that his side failed to make adequate use of all the possession they enjoyed in Saturday‘s All-Ireland Qualifiers’ one point loss to Wicklow, at Aughrim.
The slick passing movements and clever and imaginative inter-play of the Mourne men frequently carved the opposition defence wide open, and the Wicklow forwards had to work much harder for their scores than their Down counterparts who often had a surprising amount of time on the ball.
But unfortunately for Carr the finishing of his charges, of whom Dan Gordon turned in a five-star performance in midfield, failed to match the very high quality of their approach work, and the visitors paid a heavy price.
Four minutes from the end of regulation time, Down notched a hat-trick of points, the third from a subdued Benny Coulter, to level the contest.
“As well as the chances that we missed earlier on, we missed three good chances — two of them from frees — after we equalised near the end,” said Carr. It’s very disappointing, as we definitely had enough of the play to have won the game. But I can’t fault the commitment, work-rate and attitude of the players for one moment.
“With the exception of the top two or three teams, most of the rest of the teams can beat one another. And people shouldn’t forget that in last year’s championship, Wicklow beat Kildare, who went very close to beating Dublin in the Leinster final last weekend.”
Wicklow’s crucial goal was recorded as early as the sixth minute, when Leighton Glynn drove a ground shot past McVeigh, after Down corner-back Damian Rafferty had been dispossessed.That helped the home side lead 1-9 to 0-9 at half-time. Wicklow manager Mick O’Dwyer said it was a fantastic boost for his charges to take the scalp of a side of Down’s quality.
“This is a good Down side, and they had a very good win over Laois last week,” he said.
WICKLOW: M Travers; C Hyland, D O hAnnaidh, S Kelly; P McWalter, B McGrath, D Hayden ; J Stafford, T Walsh; JP Dalton, T Hannon, L Glynn; D Odlum, S Furlong, P Earls. No subs.
DOWN: B McVeigh; C McGovern, K McTiernan, D Rafferty; T Hanna, P Murphy, C Garvey; D Gordon, S Kearney; A Rodgers, C McGinn, B McArdle; B Coulter, P McCumiskey, D Hughes. Subs – A Carr 6 for Hanna (20), R Sexton 7 for McArdle (half-time), R Murtagh 6 for Maginn (57), J Fegan for Kearney (64), J Boyle for Murphy (66). Referee: G O Conamha (Galway).