Armagh 2-21 Wicklow 0-02
Armagh romped to a 25 points win over an outclassed Wicklow side at the Athletic Grounds to advance to the second round of the All-Ireland SFC Qualifiers.
It was a total mismatch, with the Ulster side slicing through the visitors’ defence at will and picking off scores with ease.
They got off to a dream start with two goals in the opening four minutes, both scored by the brilliant Jamie Clarke, who finished with 2-3 and created several other scores.
Wicklow failed to score in the second half of a game that they never looked capable of winning.
Wicklow’s efforts to curb the Armagh danger-man collapsed in spectacular fashion, with Clarke netting two goals inside the opening four minutes.
The opener resulted from a controversial penalty award, with referee Derek Fahy spotting an off-the-ball foul on Clarke.
He stepped up to net expertly, and less than two minutes later, bundled home his second goal from close range after Anthony McLoughlin had failed to hold a dropping ball from Aaron Kernan’s free.
The Wicklow defenders offered just token resistance as Armagh piled forward in waves of attack, with Stephen Harold and James Lavery dominant at midfield.
Clarke displayed creativity and vision to complement h his finishing power, and he set up chances which were put away by Harold and Eugene McVerry.
Tony Kernan and Caolan Rafferty also found the target as the margin stretched out to 16 points.
Joey Kelly registered Wicklow’s first point on 27 minutes, before corner back Alan Byrne doubled the Leinster side’s tally.
Full-back Brendan Donaghy also got his name on the score-sheet, as Armagh led by 2-14 to 0-2 at the break.
Tony Kernan and McVerry stretched the advantage further, but the scores dried up for a time as the home side allowed the tempo to drop, going 13 minutes without a score before Aaron Kernan crafted a point for substitute Stefan Campbell
Wicklow full-back Damian Power did his bit to keep his side’s spirits up, but when Clarke landed a couple of delightful points, the visitors were longing for the full-time whistle.
Clarke left the field with six minutes to play to a standing ovation, and John Flynn pulled off a superb save to deny Stefan Campbell.
When Ethan Rafferty hit a late point, all of Armagh’s starting attackers had scored, and ten players in total had registered.
Armagh: P McEvoy, P McKeown, B Donaghy (0-1), J Morgan, A Kernan, C McKeever, M Shields (0-2), J Lavery, S Harold (0-1), C Rafferty (0-2), K Dyas (0-1), E Rafferty (0-1), J Clarke (2-3, 1-0 pen), T Kernan (0-5, 3f), E McVerry (0-4, 1f).
Subs: F Moriarty for Donaghy, S Campbell (0-1)for Dyas, B Mallon for T Kernan, J Hanratty for Harold, R Grugan for Clarke
Wicklow: J Flynn, C Hyland, D Power, A Byrne (0-1), D Hayden, P McWalter, D Healy, A McLoughlin, R Finn, D O’Sullivan, J Stafford, J Kelly (0-1), J McGrath, S Furlong, P Earls.
Subs: N Mernagh for Kelly, B Coen for Finn, J Sheerin for McLoughlin, L Bension for Hayden, A O’Malley for Earls
Referee: D Fahy (Longford).