Wicklow 0-10 Armagh 2-9
A brace of goals from corner forward Jamie Clarke steered Armagh past Wicklow in this hard-hitting, intense replay in Aughrim this evening.
Clarke, who accumulated 2-2, netted in each half to set up a mouth-watering All-Ireland third round qualifier clash with Armagh’s provincial rivals Tyrone.
Wicklow put in a brave performance in wet conditions - erasing Armagh’s half-time lead of 1-5 to 0-6 - but it was not enough in what is expected to be Mick O’Dwyer’s last match in charge.
His opposite number Paddy O’Rourke will be pleased to have cleared this hurdle. Nevertheless, the manner of victory was lessened by a disappointing haul of 15 wides.
Both sides were forced into late changes, with Tony Kernan and Johnny Hanratty coming into the Armagh team for Ciaran McKeever and Brian Mallon, who both failed fitness tests.
Big midfielder James Stafford, with his left ankle strapped, was rated fit enough to start for Wicklow, but Jacko Dalton damaged his quad in the warm-up and Austin O’Malley replaced him.
The hosts had the wind behind them but fell 0-2 to 0-0 behind with the concession of opening points to Micheal O’Rourke and Clarke, who fisted over.
Armagh’s early advantage was gradually cancelled out by a brace of scores each from Paul Earls and free-taker Tony Hannon, who landed a peach of a free from near the sideline.
But that good work was undone in the 18th minute when Wicklow leaked a sloppy goal.
Armagh sharpshooter Clarke surged forward and although his initial shot was blocked by goalkeeper John Flynn, he slid his second effort past the covering Alan Byrne on the goal-line.
There was little between the sides over the remainder of the first half, a point from Leighton Glynn bringing Wicklow level again briefly at 0-5 to 1-2.
Corner back Paul Duffy burst through to restart Armagh’s scoring, and captain Steven McDonnell and O’Rourke added further efforts.
However, their manager Paddy O’Rourke was left frustrated by a wides tally of eight and Wicklow, who had a late free from Seanie Furlong, closed the gap to two.
O’Dwyer’s charges delighted the vocal home support with points from Hannon (free) and Glynn, who profited from a purposeful surge from Darren Hayden.
The sides were suddenly level again at 0-8 to 1-5, but once again Armagh showed their mettle. The clinical Clarke cracked home his second goal, picking his spot past Flynn.
McDonnell and Clarke kept the Ulstermen on course, while O’Malley and Furlong took Wicklow’s total into double figures.
Yet Furlong and Hannon were off target with frees that came at crucial points in the game. A well-struck free from a composed Aaron Kernan gave Armagh a four-point buffer with time ebbing away on Wicklow.
It was the Orchard men who completed the scoring, substitute Gavin McParland splitting the posts late on.
Former Mayo player Billy Joe Padden also had an impact off the bench as Armagh’s focus switches to next weekend’s trip to Omagh.
Scorers: Wicklow: T Hannon 0-03 (0-02f, 0-01 '45'), P Earls, L Glynn, S Furlong (0-01f) 0-02 each, A O'Malley 0-01
Armagh: J Clarke 2-02, M O'Rourke, S McDonnell (0-01f) 0-02 each, P Duffy, A Kernan (0-01f), G McParland 0-01 each
WICKLOW: J Flynn; C Hyland, A Byrne, S Kelly; A McLoughlin, B McGrath, D Hayden; J Stafford, R Finn, A O'Malley; T Hannon, N Mernagh; P Earls, S Furlong, L Glynn.
Subs used: C McGraynor for N Mernagh (20 mins), P Dalton for McLoughlin (53)
ARMAGH: P Hearty; A Mallon, B Donaghy, P Duffy; A Kernan, T Kernan, F Moriarty; J Lavery, C Vernon, K Dyas; S McDonnell, J Hanratty; M O'Rourke, M Mackin, J Clarke.
Subs used: BJ Padden for Hanratty (52 mins), G McParland for T Kernan, D McKenna for Duffy (both 56), V Martin for Moriarty (60), C Watters for O'Rourke (69).
Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare)