Match Report: Walter's Cup Semi Final Wicklow 6 - 0 Y.M.C.A on 14th Apr 2013

Following on from their first defeat of 2013 within 48 hours Wicklow had the opportunity to reach their second cup final of the year this time in the Walter's Cup. The visitors, on a blustery Sunday morning were Y.M.C.A., when these two sides met previously Wicklow ran out 0-3 winners (Click here for Match Report). Having flattered to deceive over the last couple of games the Wicklow team needed to put in an improved performance if they were to progress in the competition.



The Wicklow team saw a number of changes from that which took to the field in Prembroke, Collie inbetween the sticks, Dave Curran, Trevor, Forbes and Eamonn completing the backline. Steve, Victor and Mr. Woodroofe stationed in the middle of the park and Doug, Nick and Eoin completing the lineup. Super subs were Andy, Klaas and Pete while the recovering Ash decided the best thing for pneumonia was to blow a whistle at a group of 22 men.

YM won the toss and opted for the tip off and the game got underway with the visitors initial attack repelled Wicklow looked to move the ball quickly to the wings with Doug taking up a good position before losing control of the ball. With "gentle" guidance emminating from Trevor, Wicklow set about organising a solid press putting pressure on the YM back line to find a pass up the pitch. YM playing with 4 across the middle and a roaming two up front looked to crash balls by passing the midfield and looking for their forwards. A couple of balls found space in behind the Wicklow midfield for the forwards to pounce on however the home sides defence held firm and snuffed out any attacking threat presented.

Wicklow themselves started off tentatively, the shadow of the Pembroke game no doubt on their minds, looking to play expansive hockey but overplaying the ball on several occasions allowing YM to get their tackles in. Both Doug and Eoin linking well with their midfield counterparts in Steve and Woody before hitting the ball across the circle which the experienced YM defence dealt with comfortably. The home team though was upping the ante and saw more and more of the ball, Victor doing especially well in affording his oponent little time to play and breaking down possession.

In a portend of things to come about midway through the first half, Trevor popped up on the left side and played the ball forward dissecting the YM backline with Klaas (replacing Doug a few minutes earlier) making a superb run inside and narrowly missing the ball less than a yard to the left hand post. Shortly after the same move saw Wicklow take the lead, as Trevor once again found himself in space on the left hand side and slid the ball into the circle for Nick to latch onto. Hitting the end line Nick looked up and found Steve at the top of the circle with a sublime ball, with one defender to beat Steve let the ball run to his right before lashing the ball past the keeper for his first goal since records began. A well deserved lead for the team who were on top without creating too many clear cut chances.

As halftime drew closer Wicklow won a number of frees out on their right hand side just outside the 25, the best move ending with Eoin cutting in along the endline to force a save from the keeper the ball bouncing off the pads and into Eoin. Thats how things stood as the whistle went for half time, Wicklow clearly domminating but apart from the goal not making the most of the possession they enjoyed.

As the team reassembled for the second half, the main words ringing in their ears was width, ball speed and get something in the circle. This is exactly what happened from the outset as Wicklow entered into their best period of play since playing YM at home back in February. The right hand side proving most profitable with some slick passing seeing Eoin cutting inside his marker and hitting the top of the circle a last ditch tackle stopping his progress. A couple of minutes later Eoin himself got on the scoresheet the ball breaking to him in the circle as he finished cooly past the keeper to double the advantage. 

The second goal saw Wicklow's confidence soar with the realisation the team was clearly on top all the tension that was present in previous games lifted. With Ritchie leaving the pitch, Eamonn pushed up into right mid and Andy came on at right back which immediately had an impact on the game. Some excellent work from Victor found Eamonn who had made a barn storming run in behind the defence, and won a free. This time the free was moved around into the centre of the pitch, played into Nick who weaved his way into the circle and hit a looping shot going wide of the left post that is until Eoin volleyed the ball into the goal to make it 3-0. A real opportunists goal and a great strike by Eoin was followed up with a finger wagging celebration as he ran back to the halfway line, along with the comment "Will that get in the match report?" to which the response was "Sorry I didn't see it!" by yours truly.

From there on in, it was Wicklow all the way, showing what the team can do when in the best of form. Ruairi joined the game taking over from Klaas and within a couple of minute made it 4 - 0, storming across the circle and onto the near post which is exaclty where the ball was played calmly tapping it in over the line. Straight from the restart Wicklow went back up the field switching play well from right to left Nick this time making an exquisite turn to leave the defence behind him his shot flying past the wrong side of the post.

With ten minutes to go their was no let up, with Doug back on the pitch finding both the ball and space in front of him he cooly made it 5. In the closing stages even Trevor was making forrays into opposition territory,  the most noticeable being an "ambling" run from his own 25 into the far left corner, then cutting inside the nearest defender drove the ball across the circle the keeper doing just enough to deny Doug. To cap the game off Nick deservingly made it 6 latching onto a ball on the end line and running into the circle squeezing the ball in between pad and post. With the whistle sounding a couple of minutes later the team celebrated as they progressed into the second cup final of the season.

This was an excellent team performance particularly in the second half as confidence grew, passing and movement was much improved and some excellent overlapping moves from Eamonn. A special mention for Nick who again tore around the pitch and displayed good close ball control, however for me the man of the match was Victor who ran the midfield in the key pivot position as well as frustrating his opposite number throughout the game.