Wicklow book replay after extra-time thriller

Armagh 0-19 Wicklow 2-13

Armagh 0-19 Wicklow 2-13

Mick O’Dwyer was denied yet another great twist in his managerial career as Armagh forced a replay with the last kick of the game.

Aaron Kernan was the hero for Armagh as he landed the equalizer — his third late point from wing-back in a thrilling contest at the Morgan Athletic Ground.

Armagh were outplayed for the opening half and were lucky to be only 0-9 to 0-4 behind at the interval.

James Stafford was inspirational in the middle of the field for Wicklow and skipper Leighton Glynn picked off three top class points.

Wicklow should have been out of sight by the interval but late points from Micheal O’Rourke and Malachy Mackin gave Armagh hope as they trailed by 0-9 to 0-4 at the break.

Glynn added another point after the restart but then Armagh took charge and hit eight points without reply with Charlie Vernon coming into the game in midfield.

It was the display of Jamie Clarke, however, which hauled Armagh back into contention as the corner-forward hit five points from play in the second-half.

Captain Stevie McDonnell also got Armagh moving forward while the introduction of Johnny Hanratty helped to reduce the influence of Wicklow midfielder Stafford.

Armagh were in devastating form with Clarke levelling after 58 minutes before Malachy Mackin, who did very well after moving to full-forward, edged them in front for the first time with eight minutes left.

They should have pushed on from there and closed out the game and they almost paid the full price as Wicklow rallied in the closing stages of a game which provided great entertainment for the crowd of 6,491.

Seanie Furlong burst through for a Wicklow goal three minutes from time and it looked like that might be enough only for Gavin McParland to force extra-time with a super point from the right, moments after he was introduced in stoppage time.

Armagh outscored Wicklow by 0-3 to 0-2 in the first period of extra-time despite playing against the wind.

Wing-back Aaron Kernan took over in the second-half of extra-time and landed two long range points which seemed to be enough to secure victory.

But there was still a final kick in Wicklow and Furlong bundled home his second goal to put them one point in front with four minutes left.

However, Armagh kept pressing and Kernan showed great composure to shoot the equaliser in the dying seconds and force a replay.

Armagh: P Hearty; A Mallon, B Donaghy, P Duffy; A Kernan (0-3), C McKeever, F Moriarty; J Lavery, C Vernon (0-1); M Mackin (0-3), B Mallon, K Dyas; J Clarke (0-5), S McDonnell (0-4, 1f, 1’45), M O’Rourke (0-1).

Subs: D McKenna for Duffy, 36; J Hanratty (0-1)for Dyas, 41; T Kernan for B Mallon, 44; J Murtagh for O’Rourke, 53; G McParland (0-1) for Murtagh, 71; P Duffy for McKeever, 84; K Dyas for Moriarty, 90.

Wicklow: J Flynn; C Nyland, A Byrne, S Kelly; A McLoughlin, B McGrath, D Hayden; J Stafford, (0-1) R Finn; N Mernagh (0-1), T Hannon (0-3, 1f, 1’45), JP Dalton; P Earls, S Furlong (2-4, 3fs), L Glynn (0-4).

Subs: C McGraynor for Mernagh, 45; A O’Malley for Dalton, 52; D Siney for Hannon, 65; P Dalton for Hyland, 70; JP Dalton for Earls, 80; P Higgins for McGrath, 88.

Referee: P Fox (Westmeath).

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