O'Neill finds his range as Wicklow dig deep to deny Derry
Wicklow had to dig deep to edge out Derry by three points at Pearse Park yesterday.
The Garden County had trailed by six points at half-time, but an excellent second-half performance saw them claw their way back to gradually take control of an entertaining encounter.
The Ulstermen set the pace in the first half with centre-forward Ruairi Convery their main threat. They drew first blood inside the opening 10 minutes after Convery sent a 21-metre free crashing to the back of the Derry net.
Wicklow replied with a goal of their own just before half-time. A long ball pumped into the edge of the small square was superbly flicked into an open net by Andy O'Brien, who also played an influential role in their revival.
Derry's six-point cushion soon evaporated when the Leinster men hit a remarkable 1-5 without reply in the opening seven minutes of the second half. Enan Glynn, Don Hyland and half-time substitute Leighton Glynn all pointed, before O'Brien popped up to double his goal scoring tally.
Derry regained the lead in the 62nd minute when a shot from Michael Kirkpatrick hit Wicklow's Willy Collins on the foot before ending up in the back of the net.
However, Wicklow closed out the contest with two excellent long-range points from Jonathan O'Neill and dual star Glynn to take the title.
Man of the Match: Jonathan O'Neill (Wicklow)
Scores -- Wicklow: A O'Brien 2-2, J O'Neill 0-8 (5f, 1'65'), E Glynn 0-5, W Collins 1-0 og, L Glynn 0-2, G Bermingham, R Keddy 0-1 each. Derry: R Convery 1- 9 (1-8f), O Doherty 1-1, P Henry 0-2, A Grant, C McKeever 0-1 each.
Wicklow -- W O'Gorman 7; J Connors 7, G Keogh 7, W Collins 6; G Bermingham 7, L Kennedy 8, B Cuddihy 6; E Kearns 8, S Kelly 7; R Keddy 7, J O'Neill 8, T Doyle 6; E Glynn 8, D Hyland 7, A O'Brien 8. Subs: L Glynn for T Doyle (h-t).
Derry -- D McDermott 8; A Rafferty 7, M Graig 7, L Hawkins 6; D McCloskey 6, K Hinphey 7, S Cassidy; P Kelly 7, O McCloskey 7; A Grant 7, R Convery 8, P Henry 7; O Doherty 7, P McCloskey 6, C McKeever 6. Subs: M Kirkpatrick for P Kelly (38), R McCloskey for A Rafferty (65).
REF -- F Smith (Meath).