Preview – Bank of Ireland Tom D’Arcy Cup final
April 22, 2022 10:01 am Site Editor
The Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Tom D’Arcy Cup comes to a climax in a final between Wexford Wanderers and Wicklow at Carlow IT this evening (KO 8pm).
Wexford Wanderers v Wicklow
Wexford have received uplifting news with the return from injury of Grant Palmer and Connor Fahy.
The presence of Ireland U-18 Clubs international Palmer is limited to the bench until such time as his impact is needed.
The move from the back row to the front row comes as a long-term plan to give the talented forward the best chance possible to realise his potential.
The sheer size and scope of the Wexford pack is where it all starts for coach James O’Connor’s young men.
Sean Whelan all but guarantees the gain line from No 8 and there is plenty of weight in the front five where Pearse Conway has been in tremendous form of late.
In the semi-final, Luke O’Connor was moved from the forwards to out-half in a sign of how stretched their resources were.
The recovery of Fahy means O’Connor is free to cause havoc in the middle of the pack and the backline can operate as expected with busy scrum-half Aiden Kelly there to put the ball on a plate for the out-half.
Kaylem Codd is a direct runner in the midfield beside the long-striding Jack Brennan, who has made a habit out of striking from distance.
Wicklow coach Andrew Flood will have to make do without lynchpin centre Daire Ó Murchu in the midfield.
However, the confidence taken from overcoming hot favourites Naas has been palpable in the lead-up to the final.
The challenge is to back up that performance, not just let it be the one-off act of a giant-slayer.
There is every reason to believe Wicklow can come together again with hooker Liam Nicholson driving the motivation.
The locks Michael Byrne and Kieran Hunter will be committed to holding up their end of the bargain in the tight, especially in maul defence.
The back row of Evan Dwyer, Jake Law and Ivan Mackey is aggressive and mobile, perhaps looking to provide support in the wider channels.
Out-half Tom Hodgkinson has been relied on to kick the points that have made the difference in rewarding the approach work of the forwards.
There is discipline in defence along the three-quarter line to go with the ambition to move the ball into space where Conor Luddy is always looking for an angle to exploit.
Paths to the Final
First round – Wexford Wanderers bye; Wicklow bye
Second round – Wexford Wanderers 24 Longford 7; Wicklow 27 County Carlow 17
Quarter-finals – Wexford Wanderers 43 Dundalk 0; Wicklow 29 Tullamore 25
Semi-finals – Wexford Wanderers 26 Skerries 22; Wicklow 23 Naas 22
Wexford Wanderers – William Miller; Fionn O’Callaghan, Jack Brennan, Kaylem Codd, Bobby Connolly; Connor Fahy, Aidan Kelly; Pearse Conway, Eoin Walsh, Brian Donohoe, Conor Dempsey, Michael Cleary, Luke O’Connor, Christopher Brennan, Sean Whelan.
Replacements from: Alex Mulvihill, Max Matthews-Jones, Grant Palmer, Sam Turner, Cillian Gondard, Daniel Furlong, Maximus Power, Sean Thomas, William Murphy, Jack Quigley.
Wicklow – Conor Luddy; Adam Ralph, Noah Sheridan, Oisin Beirne, Tom Flood; Tom Hodgkinson, Conor Mitchell; Zach Callery, Liam Nicholson, Jimmy O’Donnell, Michael Byrne, Kieran Hunter, Evan Dwyer, Jake Law, Ivan Mackey.
Replacements from: Jack Nestor, Luke Symes, Charlie Clarke, Alec Richardson, Finn Fitzpatrick, Scott Fitzpatrick, Euan Doyle, Eamon Goddard.