THE decision to bring on dual star Leighton Glynn after 10 minutes of the second half proved to be Wicklow's masterstroke in Aughrim on Saturday.
Kildare drew level with the Garden County minutes later (1-11 to 2-8) having trailed by five points at the break (1-5 to 1-7), and with a strong wind behind them they looked to be in the driving seat at that stage.
Casey O'Brien had decided not to start Glynn as he was to lead the county's footballers 24 hours later, also against Kildare, in the Leinster SFC at Portlaoise.
But with things looking ominous, Wicklow decided it was necessary to spring the Glenealy clubman from the bench and Glynn's impact was immediate and crucial.
Helping out in defence as well as pressing home attacks, Leighton set up the crucial goal for his brother Enan on 57 minutes.
Leighton scythed his way through the Kildare backs before laying off a pass to Enan, who applied the clinical finish to the net from close range.
Enan Glynn tacked on his third point four minutes later and Wicklow had a 3-11 to 1-11 lead, and breathing space.
More importantly, the goal seemed to inject panic in Kildare, who decided that they had to go for goals if they were to rescue the situation.
They did manage to raise the green flag when star midfielder Billy White, who had scored a flurry of points early to bring the sides level, decided to go for broke with a close-in free in the last five minutes, drilling the ball inside the left-hand post.
But thereafter, Wicklow held firm to record a victory that sets up a Christy Ring final clash with Kerry in two weeks.
Man of the Match: Leighton Glynn (Wicklow)
Scorers -- Wicklow: E Glynn 1-3, J O'Neill 0-6 (3f, 2 '65', 1 s/l), G Bermingham, D Hyland 1-0 each, R Keddy 0-1, L Glynn 0-1 each. Kildare: B White 1-7 (0-5f, 0-2 '65'), T Murphy 0-3, D Harney 1-0, K Divilly 0-1.
Wicklow -- W O'Gorman 7; J Connors 8, G Keogh 8, W Collins 6; G Bermingham 8, L Kennedy 8, B Cuddihy 7; E Kearns 6, S Kelly 7; R Keddy 7, J O'Neill 8, T Doyle 6; E Glynn 8, D Hyland 8, A O'Brien 6. Sub: L Glynn 9 for Kearns (47).
Kildare -- R Connolly 7; J Doran 6, F O Muineachain 7, N O Muineachain 7; J Byrne 7, R Hoban 8, T Byrne 7; K Divilly 6, B White 8; C Kenny 7, M Moloney 6, L Quinn 6; T Murphy 8, D Harney 6, D Kennedy 6. Subs: P O'Reilly 6 for K Divilly (55), K Walzer 6 for M Moloney (63), P Fitzgerald 6 for L Quinn (63).
Ref -- D O'Driscoll (Limerick).