Despite racking up 2-17, Armagh missed three easy goal chances in the opening quarter which should have put this first round All-Ireland SFC qualifier to bed.
Wicklow, to their credit, hung on and capitalised on two Armagh blunders under the high ball into the square to score goals in each half from John McGrath and James Stafford to twice bring them back into the game.
Stafford’s 56th minute goal left them trailing by just a point before Armagh reeled off an unanswered 2-2, including two Jamie Clarke goals in the last five minutes, to put a flattering winning margin between the teams.
To progress further, Kieran McGeeney knows his side’s shot efficiency must improve.
“That is our weakest point at the minute,” he admitted.
“When you have three good goal chances from inside six yards, you need to be taking at least one or two of those.
“We had nine misses in the first half, four dropped short and two off the posts so it’s criminal stuff - and it’s annoying because they’re much better than they’re showing.”
Wicklow manager Johnny McGee, meanwhile, felt the final scoreline was misleading. “The ten points flatters Armagh,” he said. “We were the better team for spells of that game but got caught with two sucker-punch goals.”
Truth is, Armagh should have had the game wrapped up after scoring the first four points. Perhaps complacency crept in, but they let Wicklow back into the game after missing three goal chances.
McGrath’s scruffy 25th minute goal brought Wicklow level at 1-2 to 0-5. Armagh responded well, scoring four unanswered points to lead 0-9 to 1-2 at the break. Wicklow scored three of the first four points after the interval before Armagh, with Caolan Rafferty and Andrew Murnin impressive, hit four of the next five.
Stafford hit the net to set up an exciting finish. Ethan Rafferty nailed a ‘45’ and a long-range point to steady Armagh nerves before Clarke wriggled free from four defenders to squeeze a shot home at the near post after 65 minutes and a second in the last minute.
M McNeice; M Murray, C Vernon, S Connell; A Mallon, B Donaghy, J Morgan; C Rafferty (0-2), E Rafferty (0-4, 1f, 1 ‘45’); A Forker (0-1), M McKenna (0-3), T Kernan; S Campbell (0-1), A Murnin (0-2), J Clarke (2-4).
M McConville for Connell (53), D McKenna for Forker (53), C O’Hanlon for Kernan (60), S Forker for Campbell (69), G McParland for Murnin (70)
R Lambert; C Hyland (0-1), R O’Brien, A Murphy; D Healy, P McLoughlin, M Kenny; A McLoughlin, D Woods; D Hayden (0-1), S Kelly, N Gaffney; P Cronin (0-4, 1f), T Kelly, J McGrath (1-0).
C McGraynor (0-1) for Gaffney (HT); P McWalter for Kenny (HT); J Stafford (1-0) for Woods (55); D Odlum for McGrath (56); P Cunningham for T Kelly (58); B McCrea for Cronin (66)
Eddie Kinsella (Laois)