Both sides started strong, and the garden county men pushed forward putting the home side’s defence under early pressure but Graham Hill’s defence of David Simmons, Clive Rothwell, Ivan Rothwell and Andrew Rothwell were up to the task and dealt with the attacks from James O’Sullivan and his fellow Wicklow forwards. The Slaneysiders played some of the best hockey of the game in the first half as they passed the ball around the pitch well and linked up with balls down both wings to Liam Jowett and Jason Rothwell. The experience of centre mid player Alan Smith stood to Enniscorthy as he controlled the ball and the home sides attack with his usual unfaltering play. The cathedral towns coaching team of Donal Doyle and Fraser Rothwell had their men working well and the first goal of the game came for them after 30 minutes. Andrew Rothwell won the ball back in midfield, and sent the ball down the wing and pulled the opposition wide. The ball made its way to the left side of the pitch. A pass across the visitors circle set up perfectly for the level headed Glenn Chapman to strike the ball into the back of the Wicklow net with one of this trademark power shots. With the advantage to the visitors, Enniscorthy were happy at the break to be one nil up.
Fraser Rothwell and captain Hill’s half time team talk was positive, but, the home side knew too well that Wicklow would come back and attack, using some of their talented players such as Murray, Nuzum and O’Sullivan.
As the second half started, the crowd in Bellefield grew and played a vital role in giving the men of Wexford that extra push to fight right to the end. Wicklow came out very strong in the second half and forced the Enniscorthy defence, which now included the experience of PJ Pierce, to be on their toes. Pierce was in flying form as he disrupted the strong attacks down the right hand side. With balls being fired across the home sides circle, Andrew and Clive were always at the ready to clear the lines. David Simmons, who was playing with exceptional form, stuck to Wicklow’s O’Sullivan, and made some vital tackles throughout the game. The second goal of the game came as Enniscorthy’s Jason Rothwell sent the ball across to Liam Jowett, ready and waiting to pounce and put the ball into the right corner of the goal, to the delight of the huge crowd out on this sunny morning. The visitors continued to push forward, with Enniscorthy continuing to defend strongly. Fraser’s men reverted to more defensive game plans as with only 10 minutes to go they wanted to see the game out with a win and a clean sheet. However, Wicklow never gave up and scored a consolation goal through James O’Sullivan with about three minutes to goal. John McWey and Niall Maguire kept the ball high up the pitch, as far away from Hill’s goal line, as Enniscorthy saw out the game two goals to one.
It was a complete team performance that called for some dogged defence and determination and the Slaneyside men were deserved winners. Next up for the men will be St. Brendan’s Phoenix Park in the Semi Final of the Walters Cup this coming weekend as they go in search of silverware.
Enniscorthy Squad: Graham Hill; Clive Rothwell; David Simmons; Ivan Rothwell; Andrew Rothwell; Glenn Chapman; Alan Smith; Daithi Medcalf; Liam Jowett; Roy Chapman; Jason Rothwell; John McWey; Niall Maguire; PJ Pierce; Jacob English. Coach: Donal Doyle; Manager: Fraser Rothwell