Saturday 21 July 2018

Jackson 'can't wait' for date with Dubs

Wicklow goalkeeper Mark Jackson celebrates after scoring a point from a free. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Wicklow goalkeeper Mark Jackson celebrates after scoring a point from a free. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Mark Jackson is relishing the "big occasion" against reigning All-Ireland champions Dublin and another chance to grab the headlines after Wicklow ended their barren Leinster SFC run.

The men from the Garden County had waited five years for a provincial win but inspired by the heroics of goalkeeper Jackson, John Evans' men upset Offaly after extra-time to book their quarter-final place.

Nineteen-year-old Jackson kicked seven placed balls - including the last three points in normal time to force a draw - while also crucially saving Nigel Dunne's 58th-minute penalty and the Baltinglass netminder is excited ahead of their date with the Dubs.

"I'd normally kick the frees but to be honest I don't know what the score is, I just come up zoned in and try to kick it, that's it. I'm still in awe, it was a great game and my heart is still pounding here. It's a big boost to the county," Jackson said.

"It's going to be a good game, we're just going to go out and express ourselves, that's all we can do and we'll see from there. We will give it a go against Dublin. It's a big occasion, it's very exciting. I can't wait now."

It's a daunting task facing the all-conquering Dubs - who are chasing their eighth Leinster title in succession - later this month, particularly for a Wicklow side ranked last of the 32 competing counties based on league form.

With no wins in Division 4, they face an uphill battle against Jim Gavin's Division 1 league winners but Jackson is looking forward to pitting his wits against the game's elite.

"We'll give it a go. Big occasions, that's what it's all about and we'll give it a good rattle. I wouldn't really know any of them personally, they are a bit higher standard than myself at the minute but I'll give it all I can and sure that's all we can do and hope for the best."

Evans pleaded with Leinster officials that Joule Park in Aughrim should host the derby tie but it fell on deaf ears with O'Moore Park, Portloaise instead preferred on Sunday, May 27 (4.0).

Wicklow chairman Martin Fitzgerald expressed his "massive disappointment" that the their request to play the fixture in Aughrim was not given the green light, while several others shared their displeasure at the decision.

Among them was Kerry legend Tomás Ó Sé who tweeted: "What an opportunity lost by the @officialgaa to move the @wicklowgaa @DubGAAOfficial to Port Laoise. So what if Aughrim is 8,000 capacity. It would do wonders for kids to see this Dublin team play in Wicklow. Not Dubs fault."

Irish Independent

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