Sligo 0-12 Wicklow 0-10
By Daragh Ó Conchúir
Sligo prevailed in their qualifier clash with Wicklow in Aughrim after they came late with a strong burst to send them through to the next stage.
This was a poor game of football with a feast of wides in the second half but it was Sligo, looking more dangerous on the break throughout, who won their first qualifier tie since 2009 thanks to points from substitute Stephen Coen and half-back Brian Curran.
It was Sligo who powered out of the blocks in the opening stages. James Hynes put in a very decent first half shift in the middle for the winners and he popped over the opening score after two minutes.
Wicklow were having real trouble dealing with the visitors early on and soon found themselves four points down thanks to a fabulous Charlie Harrison effort from distance on nine minutes, a free from Mark Brehony and a wonderful conversion of a sideline kick from Adrian Marren.
Wicklow gathered themselves though and with Seanie Furlong finally enjoying an improved supply and he banged over Wicklow’s first two points – the first from a free, the second from play.
Anthony McLoughlin provided Wicklow with their third point from the outside of his right boot and Leighton Glynn added their fourth but not before Marren had claimed his second of the day from a free.
Sligo were enjoying a rich spell around midfield with Hynes collecting a host of breaking ball and after 25 minutes David Kelly pushed the them out to a two-point lead. Furlong replied once more though and Rory Finn brought the sides level after 26 mintues.
However, Sligo would finish the better in the first half with a Marren free and a 45 from goalkeeper Aidan Devaney to make it 0-8 to 0-6 at the break.
The second half was a completely forgettable affair. Wicklow, who never led, were first to score with James Stafford firing.
The hard-working Harrison replied for Sligo before the game entered a dreadful period of woeful shooting brought to an end by Coen.
Wicklow’s two subs, Niall Gaffney and Daragh O’Sullivan restored parity once more but it was Sligo who pushed on with two fine scores from Coen and Curran to edge the verdict.
Sligo: A Devaney (0-01 45); R Donovan, J Martyn, N Ewing; Charlie Harrison (0-2), A McIntyre, K Cawley; K McDonnell, J Hynes (0-1); B Curran (0-1), M Brehony (0-2fs), B Egan; P Hughes, A Marren (0-02, 1f), D Kelly (0-1). Subs: J Kilcullen for Brehony (44); S Coen (0-2) for Egan (56); D Rooney for Hynes (64)
Wicklow: R Lambert; C Hyland, P McLoughlin, A Murphy; K Murphy, A Byrne, D Healy; J Stafford (0-1), A McLoughlin (0-1); D Hayden, P Earls, R Finn (0-1); L Glynn (0-1f), S Furlong (0-4, 1f), P McWalter. Subs: N Gaffney (0-1) for Hayden (ht); J McGrath for McWalter (46); C McGraynor for Earls (54); D O’Sullivan (0-1) for Finn (58)
Referee: C Branagan (Down)