Nally goal turns tide as Louth battle back to deny Wicklow
Louth 1-13 Wicklow 0-9
Wicklow looked like they could cause a shock upset when they led by 0-5 to 0-1 after 13 minutes but Louth gradually took control of the game and eased to victory at Abbotstown.
The Louth attack found it difficult in that opening quarter to find joy against a packed defence and a tough full-back line. Wicklow weren't having any trouble of their own in attack and Mikey O'Connor was especially dangerous.
However, Louth began to find pockets of space in attack while also stopping Wicklow from scoring for the rest of the half.
Senior star Ryan Burns kicked a couple of good scores, including an excellent free just before half-time, while Ciaran Downey was central to their 1-1 scored within 60 seconds to gain a lead they never let go. First, he was found in space for the point and then he turned provider for Ross Nally's goal.
The lead had been pushed out to five early in the second half but a couple of points, including an inspirational Eoin Murtagh score, brought Wicklow back within a goal.
Burns and Downey had other ideas though and they combined to take all momentum away from Wicklow. Wicklow were still within four in the final couple of minutes but late points, including a Burns free from an acute angle gave Louth a seven-point win.
Scorers - Louth: R Nally 1-3, R Burns (3f) 0-4, C Downey 0-3, S Mulroy 0-2, C Grogan 0-01. Wicklow: G Allen (3fs), M O'Connor (1f) 0-3 each; E Murtagh, P Byrne, M Shannon 0-01 each.
Louth - S Hayes; C Clarke, K Carr, N Sharkey; D Maguire, M Corcoran, J Clutterbuck; C Early, C Grogan; D Hamill, R Burns, C Downey; T McEneaney, S Mulroy, R Nally. Subs: G Matthews for T McEneaney (25), C Callan for D Hamill (49), E McDaid for N Sharkey (51, BC), P Matthews for S Mulroy (54).
Wicklow - T McGuirk; C O'Gorman, C O'Brien, S Lohan; J McCall, E Murtagh, M Cullen; P Byrne, M Shannon; D Fitzgerald, G Allen, C Magee; C Byrne, P O'Connor, M O'Connor. Subs: M Jackson for T McGuirk (h-t), T Maher for S Lohan (37), J Bellamy for M Cullen (40), D Walsh for J McCall (45), D Hanlon for C Magee (59).
Ref - D Sheppard (Dublin)