Monday 16 September 2019

Goalkeeper Mark Jackson the hero as Wicklow book date with Dublin after shock win over Offaly


Wicklow goalkeeper Mak Jackson after scoring a point from a free during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Preliminary Round match between Offaly and Wicklow at O'Moore Park in Laois. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Wicklow goalkeeper Mak Jackson after scoring a point from a free during the Leinster GAA Football Senior Championship Preliminary Round match between Offaly and Wicklow at O'Moore Park in Laois. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Michael Verney in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise

Goalkeeper Mark Jackson was the hero of the day as Wicklow set up a Leinster SFC quarter-final date with Dublin when upsetting the odds to topple Offaly after extra-time in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise today.

Garden boss John Evan worked his magic yet again with Daragh Fitzgerald’s extra-time goal putting the seal on a memorable win as they picked up their first Leinster SFC win in five years.

Jackson had kept Wicklow in the game for long stages before that with his expert dead-ball taking helping to snatch a draw in normal time when Offaly had looked the likeliest winners.

Bernard Allen opened the scoring after seven minutes with a neat point off his right before following up with a similar effort off his left in a game played in an eerie silence early on.

Jackson got his side’s first score from a free before corner-forward Mark Kenny pointed after a penetrating run at the Offaly defence. Nigel Dunne – who was hauled off after just 28 minutes before returning in the 53rd minute – responded with a placed ball before Alan Mulhall made a fine stop from a deflected Dean Kelly effort midway through the half.

Jackson levelled affairs, 0-3 apiece, with a ’45 before Allen kicked his third, this one marked by Jamie Snell after his original marker Ciarán Hyland was switched off him.

John McGrath hit an excellent score off his left to tie it up before Offaly skipper Anton Sullivan hit the crucial score of the opening 35 minutes when surging past several Garden defenders and firing low past Jackson.

Wing back Cian Donohue followed up with a point from the outside of his left boot but Wicklow were nearly in at the other end only for Craig Dunne to make a smart block on Kenny. There was some consolation, however, with Seanie Furlong firing over a free on the half-time whistle to trail by three at the break, 1-5 to 0-5.

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Furlong opened the scoring upon the resumption and John Crowe followed up with a quick point but the Faithful restored their three-point lead through Sullivan and substitute Shane Tierney.

Darren Hayden responded with a free quickly followed by another excellent McGrath point as the drama began to unfold. Mulhall strode forward to kick a ’45 after Conor McNamee had a brilliant goal chance blocked by substitute Ross O’Brien but Wicklow felt aggrieved when a Furlong free was waved wide when looking over from this reporter’s vantage point.

They did cut the gap to the minimum again through Dean Healy, however, before Furlong levelled, 1-8 to 0-11, to set up a pulsating final quarter. It was nip and tuck in the closing stages but Offaly had a great chance to see daylight only for Jackson to save low to his right.

Mulhall pointed the resultant ’45 but Jackson ventured forward to do likewise at the other end as the goalkeeper’s swapped scores. Offaly sub Jordan Hayes kicked a neat point only for Jackson to again do the needful. Tierney fisted over to see Offaly ahead again but Jackson wouldn’t take no for an answer and fired over a long free to level, 1-11 0-14.

Substitute Eoin Murtagh had a great chance to score the winner when put clean through on goal but illegally hand passed his effort to the net and despite chances at both ends, the game went to extra time.

Wicklow took the lead for the first time through a Kenny point and although Offaly sub Gerry Spollen equalised, it was all Wicklow thereafter. Furlong fired over a beauty from close to the sideline before Jackson added a pair of frees to put them three up.

Niall Darby responded from a free but another Furlong special left the Garden in control with the second period of extra time to come, 1-13 to 0-19. Substitute Fitzgerald put the game out of Offaly’s reach upon the resumption with a superb individual goal as they booked a date with their neighbours Dublin on May 26/27 amid jubilant scenes.


Wicklow: M Jackson 0-7 (5f, 0-2 ’45), S Furlong 0-4f, D Fitzgerald 1-0, J McGrath 0-2, M Kenny 0-2, D Hayden 0-1f, J Crowe 0-1, D Healy 0-1, C Magee 0-1.

SCORERS – Offaly: A Sullivan 1-2 (0-1f), B Allen 0-3, S Tierney 0-2, N Darby 0-2f, N Dunne 0-1f, C Donohue 0-1, A Mulhall 0-2f, J Hayes 0-1, G Spollen 0-1.

WICKLOW – M Jackson, C Hyland, J Snell, P Merrigan; J Crowe, D Healy, S Kearon; R Finn, J Stafford; K Murphy, D Hayden, T Smyth; S Furlong, J McGrath, M Kenny.

Subs: C Magee for Furlong (blood 11), Furlong for Magee (12), R O’Brien for Snell (27), E Murtagh for Hyland (blood 43), Hyland for Murtagh (44) C Healy for Crowe (48), Magee for Stafford (54), D Fitzgerald for McGrath (67), Murtagh for P Merrigan inj (72), D Boothman for Finn (72 extra time), Finn for Smyth int (84), Crowe for Hayden (91).


OFFALY – A Mulhall; N Darby, D Hogan, P McConway; D Dempsey, S Pender, C Donohue; C Dunne, C Carroll; M Brazil, C McNamee, R McNamee; B Allen, N Dunne, A Sullivan.

Subs: S Tierney for N Dunne (28), G Spollen for Pender (40), Dunne for Carroll (53), J Hayes for R McNamee (54), J Lalor for Brazil (56), A Cunningham for Donoghue (79 extra time), Brazil for C McNamee (ht et), S Doyle for Tierney (ht et)

REF – J Henry (Mayo)

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