Patrick O’Sullivan, Laois, and Rory Stokes, Wicklow, in Leinster SFC action.
Patrick O’Sullivan, Laois, and Rory Stokes, Wicklow, in Leinster SFC action.

Leinster SFC: Wicklow win thriller

Leinster Senior Football Championship First Round

Wicklow 5-15 Laois 4-12

By Steven Miller in Aughrim

Kevin Quinn got a hat-trick and Mark Kenny was in inspired form as Wicklow hit Laois for five goals in a crazy Leinster football championship opening round in Aughrim.

It was Wicklow’s first win over Laois since 1986 and sets up a quarter-final clash with Meath in Navan next Sunday.

At one stage in the second half Wicklow led by 16 points and though Laois battled back with a massive wind at their backs to get it back to six, a comeback never seemed likely.

The game started at a blistering pace with Eoin Darcy getting Wicklow's first goal after three minutes.

Laois responded straight away when Gary Walsh hit the net at the opposite end but Wicklow's next score was a goal - with midfielder Padraig O'Toole finishing to the corner after a great run from centre-back Andy Maher.

While Gary Walsh hit back with a much-needed long-range free, Wicklow hit four points on the trot - frees from Eoin Darcy and goalkeeper Mark Jackson - as well as two from play from Mark Kenny, who'd hit five from play in the opening half.

Sean O'Flynn did pull a goal back for Laois after a nice move a final pass from Walsh.

But they didn't build on it and Wicklow hit five points on the trot before Kevin Quinn got his first goal in the 29th minute.

Mark Barry replied with a free for Laois but Jackson and the influential captain Dean Healy pointed before the break and at half time Wicklow led 3-11 to 2-3.

The wind was significant and while Brian Byrne pointed for Laois early in the second half, Wicklow had the Laois defence in all sorts of bother on a couple of occasion and Quinn slammed home two goals in the space of minute to put even further distance between the sides.

Laois did respond straight away when Paddy O'Sullivan fired to the net off the under side of the cross bar.

But they couldn't sustain any level of comeback and the sin-binning of Evan O'Carroll left them down a man for 10 minutes.

Laois changed things up a couple of times - bringing Paul Kingston, Cathal Doyle and Sean Moore into attack - and while Gary Walsh got another goal (before getting a straight red moments later).

Kingston and O'Carroll drove a couple of close-in frees over the bar late on and the gap got back to six.

But Wicklow had more than enough in hand and they held on to go forward to a quarter-final against Meath next weekend.

Scorers for Wicklow: Kevin Quinn 3-0, Mark Kenny 0-5, Eoin Darcy 1-2 (one free), Padraig O'Toole 1-1, Mark Jackson 0-3 (all frees), Dean Healy 0-2, Andy Maher and Darragh Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

Scorers for Laois: Gary Walsh 2-2 (two frees), Paddy O'Sullivan 1-1, Mark Barry (all frees) and Paul Kingston (two frees and one mark) 0-3 each, Sean O'Flynn 1-0, Evan O'Carroll 0-2, Brian Byrne 0-1.

WICKLOW: M Jackson; M Stone, P O'Keane, T Moran; N Devereaux, A Maher, Z Cullen; P O'Toole, JP Hurley; R Stokes, D Healy, D Fitzgerald; M Kenny, K Quinn, Eoin Darcy. Subs: O Cullen for Fitzgerald (50), O McGraynor for Darcy (64), M Traynor for Kenny (67).

LAOIS: M Byron; T Collins, M Timmons, A Mohan; D Kavanagh, J O’Loughlin, B Byrne; K Lillis, S O’Flynn; D O’Reilly, E Lowry, P O’Sullivan; M Barry, E O’Carroll, G Walsh. Subs: A Farrell for Kavangh (ht), P Kingston for Lillis (41), S Moore for Lowry (55), C Doyle for O'Loughlin (61), S Greene for Mohan (74).

REFEREE: Fergal Kelly (Longford).