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Keeper scores 0-7 as Wicklow pick up first Leinster win in 5 years and book Dublin showdown

John Evans’s side defeated Offaly by five points after extra-time.

Wicklow 1-20

Offaly 1-15

(after extra-time)

Kevin O’Brien reports from O’Moore Park, Portlaoise

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT Kerry managers that brings Wicklow football to life.

Kingdom native John Evans guided Wicklow past Offaly after extra-time to seal their first Leinster SFC win since they beat Longford in 2013. It was a day that brought back memories of Mick O’Dwyer’s reign in charge of the county, when he led them on a marvellous qualifier run in the summer of 2009.

John Evans Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Goalkeeper Mark Jackson was the hero for the winners, he saved a 58th minute penalty and gave an exhibition of place-ball shooting, scoring seven points from eight attempts – five frees and two 45s.

The sides finished level at 1-11 to 0-14 after 70 minutes but Wicklow surged clear in extra-time and substitute Daragh Fitzgerald buried an 82nd-minute goal to put the game beyond doubt.

It was a remarkable result for Evans’s men, who finished bottom of the entire league and were without a win in 2018 before today.

Wicklow’s reward is a daunting provincial quarter-final against three-in-a-row All-Ireland champions Dublin in two weeks’ time. It was a thrilling victory, but there’s little evidence to suggest they’ll cause Jim Gavin’s side any problems in the last eight.

Sean Pender and Conor Carroll tackle Rory Finn Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Offaly’s attention now turns to Round 1 of qualifiers after falling to a second successive championship defeat to Wicklow, following their 2014 qualifier loss.

Evans set his team up very defensively, but they counter-attacked with a purposeful running game and were able to draw frees for Jackson and Sean Furlong (0-5) to convert. It wasn’t too dissimilar to the system Carlow employed against Louth in the curtain-raiser.

Offaly were without suspended manager Stephen Wallace, who watched from the stands, while U20 star Cian Johnson was absent after a county board ruling forced him to play at his own grade this summer.

Stephen Wallace pictured in the stand during todays game Stephen Wallace watching from the stand during todays game Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

A low-scoring encounter was locked at 0-4 apiece when Offaly skipper Anton Sullivan burst through from the left flank and rattled a low finish past Jackson after 29 minutes. Wing-back Cian Donohue tagged on a nice effort to send Offaly into the break 1-5 to 0-5 in front.

Former star player Leighton Glynn is part of the Wicklow backroom team and they might have been tempted to find him a pair of boots at the interval after his team kicked seven wides in a poor first-half.

But they improved significantly after the restart, outscoring their opponents by 0-5 to 0-2 over the next 20 minutes to level the game, with Furlong and John McGrath among the scorers.

With the momentum going against them, Offaly were awarded a penalty after sub James Lalor was brought down in the area. Nigel Dunne, reintroduced to the fray minutes earlier after his surprising withdrawal on 28 minutes, sent his spot-kick low to Jackson’s left but the keeper palmed it behind.

Craig Dunne tackles James Stafford Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

The keepers traded 45s to leave the teams deadlocked at 0-12 to 1-9 entering the final five minutes. Subs Jordan Hayes and Shane Tierney both raised white flags for Offaly but Jackson nailed two frees from 45m.

A frantic finish to normal-time saw Eoin Murtagh miss a golden chance to send the underdogs through, when he was sent in on goal only to drop his handpass under the crossbar.

It headed to extra-time and Jackson curled over another two placed balls to help his team into a 0-18 to 1-13 lead after the first 10-minute period. Then Fitzgerald broke clear to slot a goal past Alan Mulhall with eight minutes left to send Wicklow on the way to a famous victory.

Scorers for Wicklow: Mark Jackson 0-7 (0-5f, 0-2 45), Sean Furlong 0-5 (0-5f), Daragh Fitzgerald 1-0, Mark Kenny and John McGrath 0-2 each, Dean Healy, John Crowe, Darren Hayden (0-1f) and Cathal Magee 0-1 each.

Scorers for Offaly: Anton Sullivan 1-2 (0-1f), Bernard Allen 0-3, Alan Mulhall 0-2 (0-2 45), Shane Tierney 0-2, Nigel Dunne (0-1f), Cian Donohue, Jordan Hayes and Gerry Spollen 0-1 each.

Wicklow

1. Mark Jackson (Bealach Conglais)

2. Ciaran Hyland (Na Gearaltaigh/Baile Mhuine)
3. Jamie Snell Rathnew
4. Paul Merrigan (Rathnew (Rathnew)

7. John Crowe (Naomh Padraig)
10. Kevin Murphy (Bealach Conglais)
22. Saoirse Kearon (Abhainn Dala)

8. Rory Finn (Naomh Teagain)
9. James Stafford (Rathnew)

11. Darren Hayden (Eire Og Clocha Liath)
6. Dean Healy (St Patrick’s)
12. Theo Smyth (Rathnew)

15. Mark Kenny (Baile Mainis)

13. Sean Furlong (Naomh Teagain)
14. John McGrath (Bealach Conglais)

Subs

18. Cathal Magee (Bary Emmets) for Furlong (blood sub, 11-12)
5. Ross O’Brien (Rathnew) for Snell (27)
21. Conor Healy (Dun Ard an Gleann) for Crowe (48)
19. Jordan Hayes (Edenderry) for Ruairi McNamee (53)
18. Magee for Stafford (54)
26. Darragh Fitzgerald (Na Gearaltaigh/Baile Mhuine) for McGrath (67)
17. Eoin Murtagh (Dun Luain) for Merrigan (70+2)
20. David Biithman (Baile Coimin) for Finn (72)
8. Finn for Smyth (82)
7. Crowe for Hayden (90)

Offaly

1. Alan Mulhall (Walsh Island)

4. Paul McConway (Tullamore)
7. Niall Darby (Rhode)
2. Declan Hogan (Tullamore)

5. David Dempsey (Ballycommon)
6. Sean Pender (Edenderry)
10. Cian Donohue (St Brigid’s)

8. Craig Dunne (Gracefield)
9. Michael Brazil (Tullamore)

12. Conor Carroll (Raheen)
11. Conor McNamee (Rhode)
24. Ruairi McNamee (Rhode)

13. Bernard Allen (Tubber)
14. Nigel Dunne (Shamrocks)
15. Anton Sullivan (Rhode)

Subs

25. Shane Tierney (Daingean) for Dunne (28)
26. Gerry Spollen (Durrow) for Pender (39)
14. Dunne for Carroll (53)
19. Jordan Hayes (Edenderry) for McNamee (53)
3. James Lalor (Raheen) for Brazil (55)
18. Peter Cunningham (Bracknagh) for Donohue (79)

Referee: Jerome Henry (Mayo)

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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