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Kernan proves Armagh's hero

Wing-back Aaron Kernan rescued Armagh's season when he hit three points -- including an equaliser with the last kick of the game -- as Mick O'Dwyer's magnificent Wicklow were thwarted at the death at Morgan Athletic Grounds last night.

O'Dwyer's long managerial career seemed set for another twist as his spirited charges took the game to Armagh and really did enough to win the contest.

Seanie Furlong's second goal deep in extra-time looked to be enough to seal a famous win but Kernan rescued Armagh.

Wicklow dominated the opening half with the wind at their backs and should have built up an unassailable lead but, crucially, Micheal O'Rourke and Malachy Mackin landed points just before the break to reduce the deficit to 0-9 to 0-4.

Armagh brought captain Stevie McDonnell out the field before the break in a bid to stem the flow, having not opened their account until 19 minutes into the game.

By then Wicklow were four points to the good thanks to a brace from Tony Hannon either side of one from Nicky Mernagh, while Leighton Glynn's first effort was cancelled by McDonnell.

McDonnell also pointed a free, but then Furlong fired over two excellent points, with Hannon pointing a free in between for Wicklow to lead by 0-9 to 0-2 four minutes from the break.

But those points before the interval from O'Rourke and Mackin lifted Armagh as they finally strung together a series of passes and provided the finish.

Glynn increased Wicklow's lead four minutes after the restart but then Armagh took control with Charlie Vernon coming into the game in midfield.

But it was the display of Jamie Clarke which hauled Armagh back into contention as the corner-forward hit five points from play in the second half. Armagh scored eight points without reply with Clarke levelling after 58 minutes before Malachy Mackin edged them in front for the first time with eight minutes left.

However, Seanie Furlong burst through for a Wicklow goal three minutes from time and it looked like that might be enough only for Gavin McParland to force extra-time with a super point from the right moments after he was introduced.

Armagh outscored Wicklow by 0-3 to 0-2 in the first period of extra-time despite playing against the wind.

Two late points from Kernan looked to be enough until Furlong got his second goal only for Kernan to again go forward and level with a minute left.

Scorers -- Armagh: J Clarke 0-5, S McDonnell 0-4 (0-1f, 0-1 '45'), M Mackin 0-3, A Kernan 0-3, M O'Rourke, G McParland, J Hanratty, C Vernon 0-1 each. Wicklow: S Furlong 2-4 (0-3fs), L Glynn 0-4, T Hannon 0-3 (0-1f, 1 '45'), N Mernagh, J Stafford 0-1 each.

Armagh: P Hearty; A Mallon, B Donaghy, P Duffy; A Kernan, C McKeever, F Moriarty; J Lavery, C Vernon; M Mackin, B Mallon, K Dyas; J Clarke, S McDonnell, M O'Rourke. Subs: D McKenna for Duffy (36), J Hanratty for Dyas (41), T Kernan for B Mallon (44), J Murtagh for O'Rourke (53), G McParland for Murtagh, (71), P Duffy for McKeever (84), K Dyas for Moriarty (90).

Wicklow: J Flynn; C Nyland, A Byrne, S Kelly; A McLoughlin, B McGrath, D Hayden; J Stafford, R Finn; N Mernagh T Hannon, JP Dalton; P Earls, S Furlong, L Glynn. Subs: C McGraynor for Mernagh, (45), A O'Malley for Dalton (52), D Siney for Hannon (65), P Dalton for Hyland (70), JP Dalton for Earls (80), P Higgins for McGrath (88).

Referee: P Fox (Westmeath)

Sunday Indo Sport