Match Report: 2013 Leinster Minor Cup Final

Match Report: Leinster Hockey Association Minor Cup Final

Corinthians 4 – 2 Wicklow

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Saturday 20th April saw Wicklow Hockey Club’s senior men’s team travel to Kilcock to take on Corinthians in the Leinster Minor Cup Final. On a surprisingly mild and dry day, this was the third time this season the teams had met each other with Wicklow having won both previous fixtures. What was to follow was a game packed with action and goals aplenty.

 Wicklow started the game off and immediately went on the attack with some good work up the right midfield by Richard Woodroofe. Then Eoin Byrne went on a surging run on the right wing driving into the Corinthians circle before the defence cleared the danger. Wicklow started the game stronger and dominated possession in the early stages, this time Doug Ferris skimming past his marker and driving the ball across the circle but failing to find anyone.

Wicklow opened the scoring after ten minutes, some good work again down the right seeing the ball break in the circle to Doug who slotted it past the keeper. Five minutes later Wicklow went two up with Eoin Byrne driving into the circle and finishing coolly, leading to celebrations throughout the team and supporters alike. At that point Wicklow were well worth the lead, with Corinthians biggest threat being down the left flank but they had not had any chances of note.

Immediately after the second goal, Corinthians made a game changing move substituting their centre forward and centre midfield. This had an immediate impact on the game, with an excellent aerial into the Wicklow 25 in behind left back Eamonn Madden for the Corinthians forward to latch onto. The centre forward drove into the box and executed an excellent drag back to beat Trevor Wallace and nutmegged Colm Lawless in the Wicklow goal. While Wicklow could have defended tighter it was an excellent individual goal.

Corinthians, back in the game went on the offensive and piled on the pressure with a string of penalty corners which were defended well until a flick was saved on the right post by Forbes but the ball dropped down and rolled against his foot. The decision was easy a penalty flick, which the Corinthian player duly put high and wide of the left post.

However the momentum of the game had swung in Corinthians favour and Wicklow now struggled to get decent possession in the middle of the park. Corinthians were breaking play down excellently and piling on the pressure on the back line. Eventually this pressure told just before half time with a ball across the circle breaking to a red shirt who dispatched it across the diving keeper to level the game.

That was how it stayed until half time while Wicklow had the advantage in the first quarter, Corinthians strategic substitutions had the desired impact. The half time team talk on the Wicklow side was to focus on improving the passing game and upping the balls speed. On too many occasions a Wicklow player ended up being isolated and possession was lost.

As the cliché goes the next goal was going to be vital and Wicklow as in the first half started well with some good interplay between Nick Harris and Stephen Adams forcing a penalty corner. However the corner broke down at the top of the circle and Corinthians emerged with the ball.

The tide started to turn against the Wicklow team when the sweeper Forbes Vigors received a green card reducing the team to 10 for 2 minutes. This meant Wicklow had to rejig their back line and played with just the two up front. The Corinthians midfield seeing more of the play pushed Wicklow back into their half, Colm Lawless pulling off an excellent save from a shot at the top of the D. Corinthians were looking like the side most likely to score and within a five minute period the pressure told, effectively deciding the match.

Following a mistimed tackle a penalty corner was awarded to Corinthians, from which a well-executed drag flick sailed over the shoulder of the man on the line the score now 3-2 to Corinthians. Minutes later they doubled their lead, after a storming run deep into Wicklow’s left flank a free was awarded. The free was taken quickly with the ball slammed into the circle with the defence caught off guard a delicate touch by a forward diverting the ball past the despairing dive of the keeper.

At 4-2 it was always going to be difficult to get back on terms but Wicklow gave it their best shot. Nick Marnitz at centre forward linking well with Stephen Adams to force a penalty corner, but as was the cause throughout the game the shot was blocked down. Wicklow’s cause was not helped with another green card offence this time Eamonn Madden had a rest from what seemed to be an innocuous challenge that was deemed illegal.

Wicklow emptied the bench with Victor De Vries, Ruairi O’Hanlon and Andy Clarke all seeing action. In the final minutes Eoin Byrne narrowly missed connecting with a through ball into the circle to half the lead. However time was up and the match came to an end with Corinthians crowned the Minor Cup champions for 2013.

A great game for the spectators with loads of goals and action, disappointment for Wicklow but truth be told Corinthians were the stronger outfit in the key areas and deserved the win. In particularly the difference in penalty corner routines playing a pivotal role with Wicklow being unable to convert any of theirs.

Wicklow now look forward to playing in the Walter’s Cup final on the 25th April for their last chance of silverware in 2013. It must not be forgotten however that the Garden County team did win their league and have had the most successful season in decades.

Click here for the full Minor Cup Final Gallery

Many thanks go to our photographer Aisling McGrane.