A SEAN Cannon goal four minutes from time proved to be the deciding factor in this firstround Noel Ryan Cup tie played in Skerries on Sunday afternoon.
On a day when the strong wind was the dominating factor throughout, this was certainly not a game for the purists as both sides had great difficulty in controlling the ball and the final whistle came as a relief to all involved - not least the spectators.
As the game progressed, the likelihood of a goal from either side looked remote, but in the 65th minute a long ball from the Wicklow defence was chased down by their striker who cut across Ryan Beggs and went to ground, leaving the referee with no option but to award a penalty.
This was duly converted to put the visitors 1-0 up and it looked as if that would suffice to get the Wicklow side into the next round.
However, from Skerries' next attack, a long throw-in by Aiden Bolger was headed into his own net by the Wicklow centre-half to level matters.
Then, with the game stumbling towards what looked like extra time, Alan Capper - who was the one Skerries player who stood out on the day - got on the ball and when his surging run from midfield was halted illegally 25 yards from goal, it gave the home side the opportunity they had been waiting for.
John Kennefik's left-footed strike went through the wall and the keeper got down low to parry the ball away, but Cannon, who worked hard throughout, was first to react to the rebound and pounced to score from close range to put the home side into the next round.
This game saw the return to first-team action for Ryan O'Driscoll and also saw the introduction of Cormac Grimes for his debut in senior football, and both acquitted themselves very well in what were trying conditions.
Although satisfied with the result, manager Ray Oliver was far from happy with the performance. 'Accepting the conditions didn't help. I felt we should have been better and will be looking for a big improvement next week.'
Skerries return to the LSL Division 1B league programme next Sunday, when the visitors will be second-bottom Garda. And having lost 4-0 at home to another of the struggling teams, Parkvilla, in their previous outing, Skerries will be anxious to pick up three points which would end any prospect of being drawn into a relegation battle in the remaining weeks of the season.