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Finest Of Margins See Kildare Through

April 14th, 2024

Leinster SFC Quarter-Final

Kildare 0-16 Wicklow 1-12

By Paul Keane at Laois Hire O’Moore Park

Victory for Kildare and a Leinster SFC semi-final place to look forward to in a fortnight but oh how the Lilywhites were relieved to escape from Portlaoise with this win.

A madcap final few minutes ended with wing-back Jack Sargent punching over the winning point, securing Glenn Ryan’s side an April 28 clash with the winners of the Louth v Wexford game.

For Wicklow, it’s a return to the Tailteann Cup but Oisin McConville’s crew will have nightmares about how back-to-back wins in the midlands eluded them.

Trailing by four points in the 65th minute, Wicklow substitute Oisin McGraynor blasted 1-1 to cancel out the deficit.

His 73rd minute goal came from a penalty after Kildare’s Eoin Doyle lost the ball, got caught in a foot race with Kevin Quinn and resorted to a crude drag-down for the spot kick.

That resulted in black card for Doyle, leaving Kildare down to 13 players as midfielder Kevin Flynn was shown a red card in the 30th minute for a dangerous challenge.

Remarkably, Kildare coughed up possession again in the 74th minute and Wicklow’s Matt Nolan this time had a free shot at an empty goalmouth but booted it marginally wide.

As if to compound the agony for Wicklow fans, Kildare went straight up the pitch and scored that match-winner, an epic end to a game bursting with drama and talking points.

Wicklow had no problems returning to Portlaoise, the scene of not just their big win over Westmeath last Sunday, but the venue where they also concluded last year’s Tailteann Cup campaign with a win over Limerick.

They made just one change to the team that shocked Division 3 champions Westmeath last weekend, drafting in Malachy Stone in the full-back line for a man-marking job on Daniel Flynn.

Kevin Feely, who top scored for Kildare with 0-7, partnered Flynn in a two-man Kildare full-forward line initially with Darragh Kirwan dropping out deeper.

And Kildare were largely on top in the opening quarter with a 0-6 to 0-3 lead after 17 minutes.

For Wicklow, the circumstances were the exact opposite to last weekend’s tie against Westmeath when they had the wind in the first-half and were granted uncontested kick-outs.

This time it was Wicklow that stepped off and granted Kildare free passage out as far as the middle third when they attempted to suffocate them with larger numbers in a compact defence.

Meanwhile, when it came to Wicklow’s kick-outs, Kildare put a big press on which was mightily effective.

When Wicklow resorted to indiscipline, free-taker Feely punished them with four converted frees in the first 24 minutes – two off his left foot, two off his right foot – and the Athy man also struck a point from play.

Wicklow hung in there though and timely points from Kevin Quinn, Christopher O’Brien, Patrick O’Keane and Darragh Fee kept them on Kildare’s coat-tails.

A knock to the face and a couple of blood substitutions sidetracked Feely for the remainder of the half while the 30th minute dismissal of midfielder Kevin Flynn provided another big boost for Wicklow.

Wicklow took full advantage in the closing minutes, outscoring Kildare by 0-3 to 0-1 to leave the favourites just 0-9 to 0-7 clear at the interval. Crucially, Wicklow would have the stiff wind and the extra man in the second-half.

Flynn’s dismissal paved the way for Feely to return to his old midfield stomping ground, next to Aaron Masterson.

He surged forward for a 39th minute point, complimenting an earlier Paddy Woodgate score and when Niall Kelly then curled over his third of the game, Kildare suddenly led 0-12 to 0-7.

Wicklow cursed the half-time downpour, after which the wind in their favour wasn’t as strong.

They refused to throw in the towel and got it back to a two-point game, 0-13 to 0-11, with 15 minutes to go.

It didn’t get any closer than that until the late penalty that was awarded to Wicklow and which McGraynor duly dispatched to tie the game, 1-12 to 0-15. With two extra men now, precious momentum and that goal chance for Nolan which was gifted to them, Wicklow will wonder how they didn’t win.

But Sargent had the final say for Kildare, receiving a lay-off from Kelly, who caught a miscued point attempt from Feely, before fisting over the winner.

Scorers for Kildare: Kevin Feely 0-7 (5fs), Niall Kelly 0-3, Paddy Woodgate 0-2 (1f), Darragh Kirwan 0-1, Aaron Masterson 0-1, Darragh Kirwan 0-1, Jack Sargent 0-1.

Scorers for Wicklow: Oisin McGraynor 1-1 (1-0 pen, 1f), Kevin Quinn 0-2 (2fs), Christopher O’Brien 0-2, Dean Healy 0-2, Patrick O’Keane 0-1, Darragh Fee 0-1, Tom Moran 0-1, John Paul Nolan 0-1, Gearoid Murphy 0-1.

Kildare: Mark Donnellan; Mick O’Grady, Shea Ryan, Ryan Burke; Jack Sargent, Eoin Doyle, Paddy McDermott; Aaron Masterson, Kevin Flynn; Shane Farrell, Niall Kelly, Alex Beirne; Kevin Feely, Daniel Flynn, Darragh Kirwan.

Subs: Brian Byrne for O’Grady 24, Paddy Woodgate for Feely 28-31 blood, Woodgate for Feely 35-37 blood, Woodgate for Daniel Flynn 38, Tony Archbold for McDermott 61, Harry O’Neill for Byrne 64-f/t blood, Shane O’Sullivan for Farrell 70, Ryan Houlihan for Ryan 71-72 blood.

Wicklow: Shane Doyle; Tom Moran, Malachy Stone, Cillian McDonald; Darragh Fee, Patrick O’Keane, Matt Nolan; Craig Maguire, Jack Kirwan; Jonathan Carlin, Dean Healy, Gavin Fogarty; John Paul Nolan, Kevin Quinn, Christopher O’Brien.

Subs: Joe Prendergast for O’Keane 31-33 blood, Gearoid Murphy for Carlin 33, Oisin McGraynor for Maguire 61, Prendergast for O’Keane 62-63 blood, Prendergast for Kirwan 70.

Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary).

Carlow GAA
Dublin GAA
Kildare GAA
Kilkenny GAA
Laois GAA
Longford GAA
Louth GAA
Meath GAA
Offaly GAA
Westmeath GAA
Wexford GAA
Wicklow GAA