Oisin McConville’s Wicklow left stunned by last-gasp Kildare win

The Lilywhites now face Louth in the semis, while Dublin will take on Offaly

Oisin McConville's Wicklow suffered defeat at the weekend
Oisin McConville's Wicklow suffered defeat at the weekend

Leinster SFC quarter-finals

Kildare 0-16 Wicklow 1-12

KILDARE finally got the rub of the green for the first time in 2024, as they came through a dramatic finale in their Leinster SFC quarter-final clash with Wicklow in Portlaoise yesterday afternoon.

The Lilywhites, on the back of seven straight League defeats, played with the aid of a strong breeze in the first half and when Kevin Feely’s fifth point of the afternoon pushed them 0-8 to 0-4 clear in the 24th minute, everything was going according to plan.

However, a straight red card for midfielder Kevin Flynn gave Wicklow a shot in the arm, and they were in a great position by half-time, just three points adrift.

Kildare extended their advantage to five but a run of scores from Tom Moran, John Paul Nolan, Dean Healy and Gearóid Moran dragged Wicklow back into the game, teeing up Oisín McGraynor’s equalising penalty as the game moved into overtime.

With Eoin Doyle black-carded, Wicklow had two extra men and a glorious chance to wrap up just their third ever Championship win over their neighbours when Patrick O’Keane got possession with Kildare goalkeeper Mark Donnellan out of position.

O’Keane attempted to find the empty net from the 45, but his effort bounced wide right.

In the fifth minute of stoppage-time Jack Sargent pounced to fist over the winning score, sending Kildare through to a Leinster semi-final with Louth.

Dublin 3-19 Meath 0-12

THERE was a time when this fixture meant everything. Dublin versus Kerry had glamour, it had urban and rural subplots, and if it was the Championship, it usually meant that the Sam Maguire was on the line, either effectively, or literally.

Dublin versus Kerry was magical. Dublin versus Meath was real, it was visceral, it was local.

Meath people looked at how our nation’s capital encroached on their territory, turning good GAA communities like Dunboyne and Dunshaughlin into suburbs. Dublin parents told their children to eat their vegetables, or else Mick Lyons would come for you.

Now, like every game involving Dublin in this provincial Championship, it’s a procession.

There can be spells where the underdog offers resistance, like in the early stages here, when Ronan Jones and Darragh Campion kicked the first two points, and Meath tackled like tigers, winning three early turnovers.

There were moments of defiance, like when Dublin scored their opening goal through Seán Bugler, but points from Eoghan Frayne and Jordan Morris mitigated the damage, and served as notice that this Meath team didn’t intend to roll over.

They never intended to, but their intentions didn’t matter so much as Dessie Farrell’s side simply ran through them anyway.

Without ever dominating the possession battle, Dublin still controlled the game, wore down Meath’s energy and resistance, then stamped their authority on the game with two late goals.

Paul Mannion picked up the man-of-the-match award after striking 1-6, including a goal in the 60th minute that moved the lead out to double figures, and he didn’t even extend Meath the courtesy of celebrating his first-time soccer strike, lest future generations get any oxygen from perceiving that it meant anything to him.

Then, to add insult to insult, Dessie Farrell spoke afterwards about how his team were flat in the first half (after which they led by five points) and how it was good to get playing time for returning stalwarts Stephen Cluxton, Michael Fitzsimons and James McCarthy.

There was a time when this fixture meant everything. Not now, though.

Offaly 2-13 Laois 1-8

THE nearest thing to an upset in the eastern province, and indeed in the football Championship as a whole over the weekend, was on Saturday night in Portlaoise, where Offaly were full value for their win over Laois.

A first-half red card from James Kelly of the home side was a big factor in the game, as was an early injury to mobile midfielder Damon Larkin, but Offaly were utterly dominant at both ends of the pitch.

The full-back line of Lee Pearson, Declan Hogan and David Dempsey was imperious as Laois scored just three times from play, while up front Dyland Hyland (0-5), Jack Bryant (0-3) and Keith O’Neill (1-3) all scored well, with O’Neill and Jordan Hayes hitting their goals in the space of three second-half minutes.

Louth 4-10 Wexford 0-15

LOUTH had seven points to spare in the second leg of yesterday’s double-header at O’Moore Park, but it was far less straight-forward than 4-10 to 0-15 might suggest, as by the 26th minute, three points from play had Wexford 0-8 to 0-4 in front.

An incisive run from Ciarán Keenan helped set up a goal for Ciarán Downey to bring Louth back into the game, and a black card for Eoin Porter early in the second half threatened to derail Wexford.

Instead Seán Nolan scored the only point of the game while Porter was off the field, and going into the final quarter, Wexford still led by one.

Having conceded 1-6 up to then, Louth hit the Model men for 3-4 for the remainder of the game, with Downey adding the second goal while Sam Mulroy also hit paydirt with two penalties.