Two years ago Wicklow’s minor footballers secured a famous win over Dublin in the Leinster championship, so a large crowd made their way to Joule Park in Aughrim on Saturday, hoping for a repeat in the first round of this year’s Eirgrid Leinster U20 football campaign.
Those who failed to arrive in plenty of time paid a heavy price for their tardiness as there was an explosive start to the game. Tinahely’s Eoin Darcy picked the pocket of a Dublin defender and toe- poked the ball into the corner of the net for a Wicklow goal in the first minute, only for the Dubs to win the subsequent kickout and reply in kind through wingback Adam Fearon.
Wicklow had the breeze in the first half and were certainly competitive but Luke Swan and Ciarán Archer got some great scores for Dublin and the visitors led 1-8 to 1-5 at the break.
Matthew Ging got a good early score for Wicklow after half time and he was a constant threat for the Garden County, but Dublin moved through the gears to win by 1-17 to 1-7, with Swan carrying the bulk of the scoring load after Archer received a black card. Dublin will now play Longford in Parnell Park next Saturday in the quarter-final round.
The day’s other action on the east coast was in Dunleer, where Offaly edged Louth by 2-6 to 0-9 to set up a derby tie with Kildare in five days’ time.
The Faithful men will be particularly happy with their first half display against the wind, Seán Courtney’s goal meaning they only trailed by two points, 0-6 to 1-1, at the break. Carl Gillespie’s fifth point (out of a total of six) for the Wee County extended their lead in the first minute of the second half but a second goal for Courtney, a very flick of the ball to deceive the keeper, helped to set Offaly up for victory.
They made hard work of it however, and it took two late scores from Aaron Kelleghan to settle the win.
The final action of the day was in Celtic Park, where Derry and Fermanagh met in the preliminary round clash in Ulster. Seán Cassidy’s goal put the away side 1-5 to 0-3 up at the break and Derry were pushed to the wire as they tried to retrieve the deficit in the second half.
Jude McAtamney’s deadball accuracy in difficult conditions cut the gap to two points and it fell to Eunan Mulholland and Alex Doherty to land points in the closing ten minutes and leave the final score deadlocked at 1-6 to 0-9.
Callum Jones and Micheál Glynn put Fermanagh two up at the start of extra time but Derry quickly took control of the tie and finished the game with 1-4 unanswered to win by 1-13 to 1-8. Doherty struck the goal that sealed their place in the last eight, where they’ll meet Antrim.