Wicklow and Kildare minor footballers play out epic draw
Leinster Minor football championship
KILDARE 3-13 WICKLOW 3-13
By Brendan Lawrence at St. Conleth's Park, Newbridge.
The Kildare and Wicklow minor footballers must do it all over again after their enthralling Leinster semi-final ended all square after extra-time in St Conleth's Park, Newbridge, on Sunday evening.
Quite simply this game had everything:oodles of drama, six goals, some stunning points, a huge crowd, balmy sunshine and two teams going hell for leather for 80 odd minutes.
For Kildare, the chance to put themselves in position to emulate their under-20 brethren's amazing achievement in claiming a Leinster crown by securing a final berth against Meath was the prize on offer. For Kevin O'Brien's Wicklow charges, a chance to continue their fine run of form in 2018 and to bring some sporting pride to a success-starved county was what awaited them when they took to the field to a rousing reception from the significant Wicklow following that made the trip across the border.
A bright start for Wicklow was soon sniffed out by a confident Kildare outfit who went on to dominate the next 20 minutes of action with points from Alex Beirne (2), the excellent Jack Smyth (2), the threatening full-forward Aaron Kennedy and a pointed free from Muiris Curtin ofRathangan to give the home side a commanding 0-6 to 0-1 lead after 22 minutes.
Wicklow's problem was their continual breaking down of attack after attack due to a combination of poor hand passing and tenacious Kildare defending.
Wicklow needed Eoin Darcy on the ball but up until this period he had been starved of possession.
Matthew Ginggrabbed Wicklow's second score after 24 minutes and Darcy showed what a class act he is when he won possession, rounded his man and buried the ball to the bottom corner to drag Wicklow back into this game.
But Kildare were always dangerous and right on the half-time whistle the lethal Jack Smyth profited from some slack Wicklow defending to fire past Ben Fennell for a half-time score of 1-8 to 1-3 to the home side.
Wicklow were the dominant side after the restart, winning the second half by 1-6 to 0-4 with Eoin Darcy firing home his second goal of the game after 39 minutes and sweeping over two late 45s as full-time resulted in a 1-12 to 2-9 score line and extra-time approaching.
Two Aaron Kennedy goals for Kildare, in the 67th and 76th minutes left Wicklow reeling and trailing by four points with a mere 90 seconds remaining but, miraculously from a Wicklow point of view, a poorly struck Eoghan Byrne effort for a point seemed destined for collection by John Ball but confusion in the Kildare full-back line allowed Byrne's shot pass unchecked into the back of the Kildare net.
Wicklow's chance looked to be gone but they worked the ball up the field and Kevin Quinn won a free which John Keogh swung over off his right to send this game to a replay and, if this game was anything to go by, the replay is not to bemissed.
Scorers for Wicklow: Eoin Darcy 2-4 (2 45, 2f), Matthew Ging0-5 (2f), Eoghan Byrne 1-0, John Keogh 0-2 (1f), Sean Doody 0-1, .
Scorers for Kildare: Aaron Kennedy 2-2, Jack Smyth 1-2, Muiris Curtin 0-4 (3f), Alex Beirne 0-2, Sam Morrissey 0-1, Paddy McDermott 0-1, Michael McGovern 0-1.
KILDARE: **John Ball; John Lynch, Sean Hill, Jack HAmil; Nick Jackman, Kevin Kelliher, Paddy McDermott; Liam Broderick, Marcus Kiely; Tom Browne, Alex Beirne, Michael McGovern; Muiris Curtin, Aaron Kennedy, Jack Smyth. Subs: Eoghan O'Haire for J Smyth (39min, BC), Daniel Caulfield for N Jackman (52min), Drew Costello for L Broderick (58min), Sean Englishby for M Curtin (60min), Davy Higgins for M McGovern (68min), Liam Broderick for M Kiely (70min), Marcus Kiely for Broderick (74min, Blood).
WICKLOW: Ben Fennell; Fionn O'Carroll, Samuel Kearney, Tom Moran; Kevin Quinn, Oisin Cullen, Chris Grimes; Eoghan Byrne, Sean Doody; Alan Barrett, Craig Maguire, John Keogh; Matthew Ging, Eoin Darcy, Andy Foley. Subs: Jack Fleming Foran for A Foley (44min, inj), Cillian McDonald for A Foley (44min, inj), John Doyle for A Barrett (60min), Oisin Cullen for F O'Carroll (74min), Shane Daly for J Doyle (76min), David Lawlor for S Cranley (77min).
Referee: Chris Dwyer (Offaly)