By Jim Carney
Long-serving Wicklow stalwart Tommy Gill came to Mick O'Dwyer's rescue at Croke Park when he tapped over a last-gasp equalising point from a close-in free to force a Leinster Championship replay with Louth.
It was a huge relief to veteran manager O'Dwyer, in his first season in charge of Wicklow, for several minutes earlier, while leading by three points, Wicklow had been caught by a sucker-punch Louth goal, scored with a clever flick by midfielder Ronan Carroll.
To Louth's great credit, while they weren't playing well for most of the game, they then attacked at speed in search of a winner and Darren Clarke pointed a 25-metre free to put them into a scarcely deserved lead.
It was ace marksman Clarke's fourth point of the game, including two from play in the first half, but Gill went two better as his equaliser was his fifth point of a contest that was exciting but not high quality.
Wicklow led at half-time by two points, 0-09 to 0-07, mainly thanks to Gill's four points (all from play), but amazingly they also missed four goal chances - in sharp contrast to none at the other end of the field.
Much interest in the build-up to this match centred on Carlow man Thomas Walsh's first Championship appearance in a Wicklow jersey, and he had a satisfactory enough debut although Paddy Keenan of Louth also did very well in the midfield exchanges.
The replay is due to be played next Sunday, 27 May at Parnell Park, Dublin.