O'Brien brace fires Wicklow past Armagh
Wicklow 3-19 Armagh 3-13
A blistering second-half performance, highlighted by generous scoring contributions from Andy O'Brien and Mikey Lee in particular, earned Wicklow a quarter-final clash with Mayo following this hard-earned victory over Armagh at the Athletic Grounds on Saturday.
The hosts, cushioned by a 10th-minute penalty goal from ace marksman Declan Coulter, led by 1-8 to 0-8 at the break but it was Wicklow who engaged a higher gear after the break in what was a free-scoring second period.
The lively O'Brien pounced for the first of his two goals in the 41st minute which brought the sides level at 1-9 each, but even though Armagh continued to show spirited resistance, it was the Garden County that bloomed up front.
Yet their four-point advantage was trimmed back to the minimum when Conor Corvan whipped in another Armagh goal in the 53rd minute, only for O'Brien to negate their reprieve when he flashed in his second goal two minutes later.
Coulter epitomised the Orchard County's resilience when he found the net from a second penalty but Mikey Lee's 68th-minute goal helped to seal Wicklow's victory that, while welcome, nonetheless convinces manager Casey O'Brien that there is still work to be done.
"We knew Armagh would put it up to us but we finished strongly.
"Mayo will be another difficult obstacle for us," he said.
SCORERS – Wicklow: A O'Brien 2-5; M Lee 1-7 (4fs); J O'Neill 0-3; C Moorehouse, D Staunton 0-2 each. Armagh: D Coulter 2-6 (2-0pens 4fs); C Corvan 1-0; F Bradley, J Corvan, R Gaffney 0-2 each; P Hughes 0-1.
Wicklow – T Kennedy; G Bermingham, S Kelly, L Moloney; G Byrne, J Henderson, B Cuddihy; E Kearns, R Keddy; C Moorehouse, M Lee, J O'Neill; A O'Brien, S Byrne, D Staunton. Subs: E Dunne for Moloney (40), P Doran for O'Neill (68).
Armagh – S Doherty; C Devlin, C Clifford, M Garvey; S Renaghan, N Curry, C McAnallen; F Bradley, P Gaffney; D Coulter, J Corvan , K McKernan; C Corvan, R Gaffney, P Hughes. Subs: D Mone for Devlin (50), L McKee for Garvey (58), A McGuinness for Curry (65).
Ref – S Keane (Galway).