Wicklow record first win since 2013 to set up Dublin clash
The Garden County’s goalkeeper Mark Jackson was the hero with seven points
Offaly’s Sean Pender and Conor Carroll tackle Rory Finn of Wicklow. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Wicklow 1-20 Offaly 1-15 (AET)
Dublin won’t be losing one iota of sleep but that won’t worry Wicklow one bit either. The Garden County recorded a famous extra time win over Offaly in Portlaoise on Sunday, their first in the championship since 2013.
It was a deserved win for Wicklow, who finished bottom of Division 4, against a very poor Offaly side who have now only won one game in Leinster since 2007.
Having never led in normal time, Wicklow played their best football in extra time. They led by 0-19 to 1-13 at the end of the first period and then a goal from substitute Darragh Fitzgerald put them six clear at the start of the second period. At that stage of the game, such a lead was always going to prove decisive and Wicklow coasted home.
The first half was a fairly mediocre affair, to put it mildly. While there was no doubting the commitment of either side, but the intensity was missing and it did not make for pretty viewing as both sides made a lot of mistakes with poor passing and bad shooting.
Offaly were somewhat fortunate to go in at half time with a 1-5 to 0-5 lead. The goal came from Anton Sullivan in the 29th minute, just moments after Offaly had made the controversial decision to replace one of their main forwards Nigel Dunne (he came back on in the second half and had a penalty saved).
For much of the first half, both sides were equally poor. They were level at 0-2 each, 0-3 each and 0-4 at different stages before Sullivan’s goal was followed by a Cian Donohue point to push Offaly four clear.
Wicklow had three good goal chances in the first half and converted none of them - Offaly goalkeeper Alan Mulhall made a brilliant full length save from Dean Healy in the 16th minute, James Stafford was wide with a good chance in the 27th minute and Conor Carroll made a great block to deny Kevin Murphy before the interval.
Sean Furlong’s free made it a three point game deep in injury time and it was all to play for at the interval, though Offaly had the wind to come in the second half.
The second half was a comedy of errors at times, though the closeness of the score kept attention fully focused. There was never more than three points separating the sides and Wicklow displayed great fighting spirit to get level at 0-11 to 1-8 with 14 minutes left.
Their goalkeeper Mark Jackson was their hero as he found his range with some fantastic long range kicks. Twice Offaly edged in front late on and twice Jackson pulled Wicklow out of the fire. In injury time, both sides wasted great chances of winning it with Wicklow substitute Eoin Murtagh hand passing the ball into the net with a goal or simple point at his mercy. At the other Cian Donohue blazed a last gasp chance wide for Offaly from a difficult angle as it finished 1-11 to 0-14 at the end of normal time. And in extra time there was only one point in it.
WICKLOW: M Jackson (0-7, 5f and 2 ‘45s’); C Hyland, J Snell, P Merrigan; S Kearon, D Healy (0-1), J Crowe (0-1); R Finn, J Stafford; K Murphy, D Hayden (0-1, f), T Smyth; S Furlong (0-5, 5f), J McGrath (0-2), M Kenny (0-2).
Subs: R O’Brien for Snell (26’), C Healy for Crowe (47’), C Magee (0-1) for Stafford (53’), D Fitzgerald (1-0) for McGrath (66’), E Murtagh for Merrigan (71’), D Boothman for Finn (71’), R Finn for Smyth (83’), J Crowe for Hayden (90’).
OFFALY: A Mulhall (0-2 45s’); D Hogan, P McConway, N Darby (0-2, 2f); D Dempsey, S Pender, C Donohue (0-1); C Dunne, C Carroll; M Brazil, C McNamee, R McNamee; B Allen (0-3), N Dunne (0-1, f), A Sullivan (1-2. 1f).
Subs: S Tierney (0-2) for Dunne (27’), G Spollen (0-1) for Pender (39’), N Dunne for Carroll (53’), J Hayes (0-1) for R McNamee (54’), J Lalor for Brazil (55’), A Cunningham for Donohue (79’), M Brazil for Tierney (85’), S Doyle for C McNamee (85’).
Referee: J Henry (Mayo).