Sligo clinch Div 4 title with hard fought victory over Wicklow in Croke Park

Sligo 2-10 Wicklow 0-14

Sligo's Luke Towey in action with- Wicklow's Andy Maher. Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile.

Emma GallagherSligo Champion

Allianz NFL Div 4 final

Sligo are the Allianz NFL Div 4 champions after a hard-fought tussle with Wicklow in tough conditions in Croke Park this evening.

In heavy rain, conditions were challenging to say the least as Tony McEntee's side encountered opponents Wicklow, who they defeated earlier in round two of the league in Aughrim.

It was fellow Armagh man Oisín McConville's Wicklow who got off to the brightest starts in a damp Croke Park, scoring three points on the bounce although Sligo captain Niall Murphy had an early shot on goal which went narrowly wide, Wicklow points coming from full forward Mark Kenny, with the lively Kevin Quinn registering his first of four from the opening half three minutes in following a foul. Cillian McDonald linked up with JP Hurley who added his side's third, Quinn putting them four in front on 8 minutes.

It was the 16minute before Sligo got on the scoreboard despite a couple of chances, Seán Carrabine and Paul Kilcoyne doing a neat one-two with the Castleconnor man fouled and captain Niall Murphy doing the honours.

It was the Coolera/Strandhill man who got all of the Sligo scores in the opening half. Wicklow edged further in front with goalkeeper Mark Jackson slotting over a free on 21 minutes to put them four in front.

Down the other end, Murphy sent over a brilliant point from play on 24 minutes.

Sligo keeper Daniel Lyons was then called into action when Wicklow's Darragh Fitzgerald found Eoin Darcy lurking and his goal shot was saved by the Shamrock Gaels man, Quinn alert to point the rebound on 25 minutes.

Sligo were reduced to 14 when full-back Eddie McGuinness was black carded on 25 minutes, Quinn adding the resultant free.

Moments later Quinn again had a chance which looked to be going over, but the post denied.

Paul McNamara sent in a fantastic ball to Murphy who won a mark and pointed his third on 28 minutes.

It was Sligo who then pounced for the game's opening goal on 29 minutes, a fabulous move involving corner back Nathan Mullen to Luke Towey who passed to Murphy who finished to the back of the net, much to the applause of the Sligo support, Sligo back to within a point.

Another Quinn chance came off the post and Kenny was loitering near the goal, good defensive work from Evan Lyons and Kilcoyne seeing the ball go out for a '45, Jackson converting as Wicklow led 0-8 to 1-3 at the interval.

Wicklow edged in front with a free from Darcy for a foul on Fitzgerald after the resumption, down the other end a great move involving Keelan Cawley and Brian Cox found the excellent Cian Lally who pointed on 40 minutes.

Murphy sent in a dangerous ball and the bounce landed into Carrabine who turned and pointed on 42 minutes, Sligo back to within a point. Then Sligo took the lead, a fantastic move involving Paddy O'Connor, Carrabine and Lally found Kilcyone who brilliantly hit Sligo's second goal on 43 minutes, Sligo in front by 2-5 to 0-9.

The hardworking Luke Towey added another point from play for the Yeats county as Wicklow were advancing and Paul McNamara overturned possession for Sligo, Lally finding Pat Spillane who sent over a superb point from a difficult angle on 47 minutes, Sligo leading by four.

Carrabine linked up with Murphy whose shot was stopped by the Wicklow keeper. Fine scores from Dean Healy and Quinn brought it back to a two point game with Carrabine then fouled and converting on 55 minutes.

Pádraig O'Toole won a free for Wicklow, with Darcy slotting over as the rain poured down. A fabulous ball in from Alan Reilly found Nathan Mullen who pointed for Sligo which was followed by a brilliant score from Murphy.

Quinn had another goal chance with Lyons saving, the ball going out for a '45, Jackson again on target as the game enterted the final stages. Quinn again saw a possible point coming off the post as Wicklow's O'Sullivan from a free brought it back to a two point game.

Sligo had done enough and round off their impressive league with promotion and league champions.

Sligo captain Niall Murphy in his acceptance speech, poignantly said the win was for Red Óg Murphy, whose first anniversary is today.

SLIGO; Daniel Lyons, Nathan Mullen, Eddie McGuinness, Evan Lyons, Luke Towey, Brian Cox, Paul McNamara, Paul Kilcoyne, Cian Lally, Keelan Cawley, Seán Carrabine, David Quinn, Pat Spillane, Paddy O'Connor, Niall Murphy (C)

Substitutes used; Mikey Gordon for Quinn (39), Alan Reilly for O'Connor (57), Gerard O'Kelly-Lynch for Cawley (63), Mark Walsh for Spillane (65)

Scorers; N Murphy 1-4 1f 1m P Kilcoyne 1-0 C Lally 0-1 S Carrabine 0-2 1f L Towey 0-1 P Spillane 0-1 N Mullen 0-1

WICKLOW; Mark Jackson, Malachy Stone, Eoin Murtagh, Jacques McCall, Tom Maher, Patrick O'Keane, Cillian McDonald, Dean Healy, Pádraig O'Toole (C), Andy Maher, JP Hurley, Darragh Fitzgerald, Kevin Quinn, Mark Kenny, Eoin Darcy

Substitutues used; Karl Furlong for McCall (51), Zack Cullen for Andy Maher (53), Cian O'Sullivan for Fitzgerald (57), Fintan O'Shea for Tom Maher (61), Johnny Keogh for Kenny (70)

Scorers; M Kenny 0-1 K Quinn 0-5 3f JP Hurley 0-1 M Jackson 0-3 1f 2'45 E Dary 0-2 2f D Healy 0-1 C O'Sullivan 0-1 1f

REFEREE; Paul Faloon (Down)