Kildare 0-12 Wicklow 0-5
Kildare took some time to get going but in the end they were comfortable victors over a very poor Wicklow outfit at O’Moore Park.
Mick O’Dwyer’s men almost went the entire second half without registering a score, and the point they did get only arrived from a Leighton Glynn free with the very last kick of the game.
Having fallen at the first hurdle last year, Kildare will be pleased just to set up a meeting with Meath and in truth, the margin of victory gives scant indication of their superiority.
The Lilywhites shot a total of 17 wides, with 10 of those coming in the first half. That doesn’t even tell the entire story though as they also landed the ball into the hands of Wicklow goalkeeper, Mervyn Travers on countless occasions, particularly in the second half.
Their profligacy in front of the posts meant that they only led by 0-5 to 0-4 at half time, although to give Wicklow some credit, they had their best period of play in that opening stanza.
As was widely touted during the week, Kildare began with Johnny Doyle at midfield and he set the tone for another wonderful performance with an early point and Alan Smith made it 0-2 to 0-0 soon after.
Wicklow recovered with three successive points, two from Seanie Furlong and one from former Mayo man Austin O’Malley.
Doyle, Hugh Lynch and Gary White from a 45 responded though and Kildare completely dominated possession, due largely the platform provided by Doyle and the All Whites’ defensive unit.
If anything, the dominance was even greater in the second half. Tomás O’Connor pointed when reacting well to get to the rebound after his flick from Doyle’s delivery had thundered off the crossbar. Smith profited from brilliant work by White to dispossess a Wicklow defender to add another and two Doyle frees stretched the margin to five.
Kildare relaxed visibly at this stage and Smith, Emmet Bolton and debutant Padraig Fogarty – a cousin of Doyle’s – put them on easy street.
Referee Marty Duffy had to depart the scene with a leg injury in the 57th minute and stand-in, Syl Doyle had to send O’Malley off six minutes later on the advice of an umpire, after the Wicklow man clashed with Andriú Mac Lochlainn off the ball, leaving the Ellistown man with a bloody nose.
It was Wicklow though who were feeling the pain in the end.
Kildare: S Connolly; A Mac Lochlainn, M Foley, H McGrillen; G White 0-1(45), M O’Flaherty, E Bolton 0-1; J Doyle 0-4(3fs), H Lynch 0-1; B Flanagan, P O’Neill, E O’Flaherty; R Sweeney, T O’Connor 0-1, A Smith 0-3. Subs: J Kavanagh for E O’Flaherty (27); E Callaghan for Flanagan (30); P Fogarty 0-1 for Sweeney (49); C Brophy for O’Neill (52); T O’Neill for Mac Lochlainn blood (63-67)
Wicklow: M Travers; C Hyland, A Byrne, S Kelly; M McLoughlin, B McGrath, D Hayden; J Stafford, R Finn; T Hannon, P Dalton, P Earls; A O’Malley 0-2, S Furlong 0-2(1f), L Glynn 0-1(f). Subs: C McGraynor for Hannon (21); N Mernagh for Dalton (44); JP Dalton for Finn (63)
Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo)