Wicklow 2-12 Kildare 1-17
Padraig Nolan's Kildare survived a Leinster SFC first round fright in Croke Park's curtain raiser today, as they came from behind to edge plucky Wicklow 1-17 to 2-12.
Their top hitmen Tadhg Fennin and Johnny Doyle contributed 1-10 of their scores, and Wicklow, searching for a first Leinster win in five seasons, ultimately floundered on a disappointing wides tally of 16.
Despite Wayne O'Gorman, top scorer Paul Earls (1-06) and Leighton Glynn firing the Garden men into an early 0-03 to 0-01 lead, the sides were level at 0-07 apiece at the break.
A stunning burst of 2-02 from Wicklow inside the first 10 minutes of the second half had Kildare on the ropes though. Fifty seconds in, Earls banged home a rebounded O'Gorman shot for their first goal.
Doyle and Fennin predictably replied before Thomas Harney's 45th minute goal stretched Wicklow's lead to 2-09 to 0-09.
Could they hold on? It was an unfortunate no as an Eamonn Callaghan high ball saw the Wicklow defence in trouble and the ever-alert Fennin was on hand to tap home.
Callaghan, Doyle and substitute Karl Ennis all pointed to level things up and Kildare, showing sparks of the form which saw them net a 2003 provincial final appearance, then pushed clear.
Earls ensured a fraught ending nonetheless as he pointed on 68 minutes to square it at 2-12 to 1-15 but late overs from Ronan Sweeney and Doyle justified Kildare's short odds of 1/7.
Kildare: E Murphy; A Rainbow, D Hendy, P Mullarkey; M Foley (0-01), G Ryan, D Lyons; K Brennan (0-1), W Heffernan; E Callaghan (0-03), P O'Neill, R Sweeney (0-01); T Fennin (1-03 (1f)), S McKenzie-Smith, J Doyle (0-07 (3f)).
Subs used: M Hogarty for O'Neill (half-time), K Ennis (0-01) for Hendy (39 mins), D Earley for Brennan (46), R Glavin for McKenzie-Smith (49).
Wicklow: R Hollingsworth; C Hyland, B Daly, T Burke; K Manning, D O hAnnaidh, B O hAnnaidh; D Dillon (0-01), J Stafford; D Smullen, L Glynn (0-01), T Harney (1-01); P Earls (1-06 (2f)), W O'Gorman (0-02), A Ellis (0-01). Subs used: G Duffy for Manning (25 mins), JP Davis for Harney (54), D O'Sullivan for Ellis (61), J Daniels for Davis (65).
Referee: F Flynn (Leitrim).