Louth 1-09 Wicklow 0-12

Updated: Thursday, 14 Jun 2007 15:52

Nicky McDonnell wheels away after his late goal for Louth
Nicky McDonnell wheels away after his late goal for Louth

Louth and Wicklow’s Leinster SFC duel has gone to a second replay after 70 minutes plus extra-time failed to separate the sides at Parnell Park.

Substitute Dean Odlum’s point drew Wicklow level at 0-9 apiece and forced extra-time, after the Garden County had had star man Tommy Gill dismissed.

Mick O’Dwyer’s men led 0-5 to 0-4 at the interval, with Tony Hannon impressing, but points from subs JP Rooney and David Reid almost saw Louth win in regulation time.

Another sub, Nicky McDonnell, grabbed a goal for Louth in extra-time but a late point from midfielder Thomas Walsh kept Wicklow’s championship hopes alive.

Watched by a boisterous crowd of 8,500, Wicklow gained an early foothold with Walsh and James Stafford linking well in centre-field, and the marauding Leighton Glynn carrying on from where he left off in the first game.

Louth, who made two late changes with Dessie Finnegan and Martin Farrelly promoted to the starting line-up, made a sleepy start and waited until the 17th-minute before registering their first point through Aaron Hoey.

Wicklow, with Stafford and Hannon both off the mark, led 0-2 to 0-0 before Hoey ended a series of poor shooting from the Louth men with a well-taken free.

Hoey was not his assured self though when given a goal chance by team-mate Darren Clarke – the St Brides clubman shot wide of Billy Norman’s left upright.

A sublime five-man move ended with Wicklow midfielder Stafford bisecting the posts from 45 metres out, helping his side go 0-4 to 0-2 ahead. However, Mick O’Dwyer’s men let Louth back into the game in the first half’s closing minutes.

Louth, helped by the introduction of JP Rooney who came on for Clarke, cut the gap to a single point – 0-5 to 0-4 – by the break.

Wicklow continued to look the more likely winners in the early part of the second half, but like last weekend’s game, they failed to capitalise when given a sight of goal.

Hannon kicked his third point of the afternoon before John Slattery, who replaced Brendan O hAnnaidh in the Wicklow side, was put through one-on-one with Stuart Reynolds but the Louth goalkeeper did well to narrow the angle.

Points from Shane Lennon and Hoey helped Louth keep in touch and Eamonn McEneaney’s men got back on terms in the 69th-minute when Rooney converted a 20-metre free.

Just four minutes earlier, Wicklow had lost Gill to a red card – the diminutive corner-forward was dismissed for his second bookable offence – and their world looked to be crumbling around them when a quick attack resulted in substitute David Reid pointing Louth in front.

But determined to make their mark on this year’s Championship, Wicklow showed great heart and raced up the other end for Odlum to square up the tie and ensure extra-time.

JP Dalton and Glynn both pointed in the first half of extra-time as Wicklow’s seemingly superior fitness levels came to the fore. 0-11 to 0-9 in front, O’Dwyer’s charges were looking good but that two-point gap remained.

It gave Louth a sliver of hope to get back into the game and they duly did when McDonnell slipped home their goal. There was still time for a Wicklow comeback and the tireless Walsh popped up with the equaliser with just seconds remaining to force a second replay and postpone next weekend's Leinster SFC quarter-final between Wexford and the winners of this game.

Instead, Wicklow and Louth will get a second outing at Croke Park next Sunday afternoon, playing each other in the curtain raiser to the much-anticipated Dublin-Meath encounter.