Wicklow 3-13 Carlow 0-12
A hat-trick of goals saw Wicklow clear the Leinster Championship's first hurdle as they overcame Carlow at O'Moore Park this afternoon.
Wicklow had Nicky Mernagh sent off in first half injury-time but a Paul Earls goal ensured a 1-6 to 0-6 lead for them at the break.
Carlow lost midfielders Brendan Murphy (straight red) and Thomas Walsh (second yellow) in the closing 35 minutes, and their provincial hopes were ended by further goals from Wicklow's Leighton Glynn and JP Dalton.
After a pulsating encounter which saw referee Gerry Kinneavy award three red cards and 16 yellows, the reward for Mick O’Dwyer’s men is a quarter-final clash with Westmeath on June 6.
Carlow dominated possession in the opening half, but were unable to make this count on the scoreboard as they registered seven wides inside the opening 21 minutes.
Wicklow were more clinical, centre-forward Tony Hannon firing over two of his sides’ first three points. Leighton Glynn was also on target as the Garden County outfit built a 0-3 to 0-0 lead.
Carlow were left exposed defensively, while the expected midfield dominance by former Aussie Rules hopeful Brendan Murphy and ex-Wicklow player Thomas Walsh failed to materialise in the opening quarter.
Luke Dempsey’s charges had registered four wides before Murphy landed Carlow’s opening point to cut the deficit to two points.
The Rathvilly clubman soon added a second, and a Simon Rea free levelled this local derby for the first time in the 18th minute.
But Wicklow took control with Earls’ 33rd-minute goal putting them in the driving seat. There was some excellent play by Hannon and defender Patrick McWalter in the lead-up to the goal which saw the St. Patrick's clubman shake off a defender before knocking the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper James Clarke.
The strike gave Wicklow a 1-6 to 0-4 advantage but they were on the back foot in injury-time, with the dismissal of Mernagh and two Rea points leaving a goal between the sides at the break.
There was nothing pedestrian about the second half display of either side, with Wicklow's numerical disadvantage failing to show.
McWalter bagged another Wicklow point within 40 seconds of the restart, with scores from Hannon and Glynn giving O’Dwyer’s side a 1-10 to 0-7 lead by the 45th minute.
Carlow pressed hard, with Murphy beginning to exert his authority on proceedings, although Wicklow goalkeeper Mervyn Travers denied him in the 58th minute.
The Barrowsiders were reduced to 14 men when Murphy saw red with eight-and-a-half minutes remaining. They tried hard to pick up the pieces but were dealt a huge blow with two sucker-punch goals in a six-minute spell.
Firstly, Wicklow captain Glynn found the net, after an excellent long ball in from midfielder Dalton. Glynn outpaced both Padraig Murphy and Benny Kavanagh before beating Clarke from close range.
Dalton turned scorer as he completed Wicklow's hat-trick in the 68th minute, nipping the ball past Clarke to put his side 3-11 to 0-9 in front.
Carlow rallied in the closing stages with scores from substitute Daniel St Ledger and defender Alan Curran. But it was too late for Dempsey's side to stage a recovery and Wicklow progressed through to the last-eight.
Scorers: Wicklow: L Glynn 1-4, T Hannon 0-6 (0-2f, 0-1 ‘45’), P Earls, JP Dalton 1-0 each, S Furlong 0-2, P McWalter 0-1
Carlow: S Rea 0-4 (0-4f), A Curran, B Murphy 0-3 each, JJ Smith, D St Ledger 0-1 each
WICKLOW: M Travers; S Kelly, D O'hAnnaidh, A Byrne; P McWalter, B McGrath, D Hayden; J Stafford, D Jackman; L Glynn, T Hannon, N Mernagh; D Odlum, S Furlong, P Earls.
Subs used: JP Dalton for Jackman (21 mins), S Canavan for McWalter (52), P Dalton for Odlum (58).
CARLOW: J Clarke; P Murphy, L Murphy, B Kavanagh; A Curran, J Hayden, P McElligott; B Murphy, T Walsh; S Gannon, D Foley, M Carpenter; S Rea, J Murphy, J Kavanagh.
Subs used: S Redmond for L Murphy (29 mins), JJ Smith for Foley (34), D St Ledger for J Murphy (44), P Cashin for Hayden (60).
Referee: Gerry Kinneavy (Galway)