John Meyler’s team had a tonic start with a gift of a goal by wing-forward Michael Boyle after just two minutes but found the tight marking, passion and spirit shown by the home side too much to handle.
And their defence took a roasting from Wicklow’s lethal inside strike force, corner-forward Andy O’Brien and full-forward Jonathan ‘Bosco’ O’Neill who caused havoc as they racked up a massive 1-16.
On five minutes Andy O’Brien countered Boyle’s opening goal for Kerry and when Wayne O’Gorman sneaked home Wicklow’s second goal following a line-ball by Jonathan O’Neill, Wicklow were in the driving seat as they led 2-9 to 1-6 at half-time.
Only back from injury a week earlier, Jonathan O’Neill was on top of his game as he scored 0-11 for Wicklow with eight of those points coming from frees.
Shane Nolan hit Kerry’s second goal eight minutes from the end to narrow the gap to three points, 2-17 to 2-14, but still they could not break the resolve and defiance of a brave Wicklow team.
Scorers for Wicklow: J O’Neill 0-11 (8fs), A O’Brien 1-5, W O’Gorman 1-0, E Kearns 0-2, R Keddy, C Moorehouse 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: S Nolan 1-3, M Boyle 1-1, S Brick (3fs), D O’Connell (1f) 0-4 each, W O’Dwyer 0-3.
WICKLOW: J Murphy; J Connors, G Keogh, B Cuddihy; J Henderson, S Kelly, G Bermingham; E Kearns, R Keddy; T Doyle, W O’Gorman, E Dunne; E Glynn, J O’Neill, A O’Brien.
Subs: C Moorehouse for W O’Gorman.
KERRY: B Rochford; J Godley, T Murnane, R Horgan; A O’Connor, P Costello, L Boyle; D Dineen, J Griffin; M Boyle, W O’Dwyer, D O’Connell; S Brick, P Boyle, S Nolan.
Subs: J Flaherty for P Boyle.
Referee: D Hughes (Carlow).