Smash-and-grab victory not enough for promotion

By William O’Toole

Despite a brave second half performance from Wicklow in Semple Stadium, their promotion hopes were dashed after Clare came away from Antrim with a four point win.Image0067

Harry Murphy’s men travelled to Thurles knowing that they would have to beat newly promoted Tipp and hope that Clare would leave the Safron County empty-handed.

In truth, a Wicklow win didn’t look likely for large parts of the game, but three goals in the space of an injury time minute helped them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and secure a memorable win.

The home side started with a strong wind at their backs but Leighton Glynn raised the first white flag of the afternoon. However,  a Robbie Kiely point and a free from Conor Sweeney got the ball rolling for Tipp.

Two points from Donagh Leahy and Philip Austin extended their lead and they were five points up after twenty minutes.

Sweeney then had a chance to put day light between the sides but his shot came back off the post. Seanie Furlong then kicked his first free of the afternoon and it was one badly needed.

They enjoyed a good period before half time when they kicked five unanswered points thanks to Glynn, Furlong and Gaffney. A Peter Acheson point steadied the ship for Tipp but given the way the first half went Wicklow were probably the happier going in at the break.

The home side made a bright start to the second half and three quick points put them back in command.

They got on top after that and despite a Wicklow point, Tipp extended their advantage to seven.

It looked like Wicklow were dead and buried at this stage and despite a Leighton Glynm penalty it still looked like the game was over  but Football is a funny game and the old saying ‘goals win games’ was about to ring through.

From somewhere,  Wicklow conjured up the comeback of comebacks. Rory Finn raised the green flag first and that was quickly followed by goals from James Stafford and Seanie Furlong which completed a remarkable comeback and sealed an unlikely two point win.

Unfortunately,  Clare’s win over Antrim ended Wicklow’s promotion hopes and while the damage was ultimately done in Leitrim, they can take great pride out of a spirited comeback that showed great guts and an unbelievable will to win.

Final score Wicklow 4-12 Tipperary 0-22

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