Ryan O’Rourke proved the hero for Leitrim when he lashed home a late goal to knock the stuffing out of Wicklow in the dying minutes of their pulsating Division 4 clash in Aughrim on Sunday.
O’Rourke’s goal arrived on 69 minutes, just one minute after Wicklow substitute Conor McGraynor had pushed the hosts ahead by the minimum.
It wasn't to be the final act as Leitrim tagged on two excellent scores at one end and Michael McWeeney executed a vital interception at the other, ensuring that Terry Hyland’s men departed the south-east with a second win on the trot.
Wicklow took a one-point lead into the break thanks to a Mark Doyle goal to open the scoring after a barren 13 minutes in a dark and cold Aughrim.
John Evans’ side were doing a splendid job in minding the dangerous O’Rourke, but Terry Hyland’s men found several other warriors to step up to the plate, Damien Moran and Domhnaill Flynn being two stalwarts throughout.
Leitrim took control early in the second half thanks to midfield dominance and they led by 0-10 to 1-05 following points from Damien Moran, Evan Sweeney and Jack Heaslin.
But Wicklow clawed their way back into the game, driving hard at Leitrim and winning frees which Mark Jackson slotted with sublime ease, and a monster from Chris O’Brien left the home side leading by 1-10 to 0-12.
The sides traded points in the final ten minutes, the lead switching hands on a couple of occasions. Wicklow landed two points in two minutes through Jackson and McGraynor to leave the score at 1-12 to 0-14. But it was O'Rourke who then struck the decisive blow after completing an excellent team move.
Wicklow had another goal chance late on but Leitrim corner-back Micheal McWeeney got a vital touch to divert Conor McGraynor's shot away
Shane Moran and Gary Plunkett added further points to give Leitrim a 1-16 to 1-12 win at the end of a rip-roaring game.
Wicklow: Mark Jackson (0-05, 0-04f 0-01 '45); Oisin Manning, Ross O’Brien, Jamie Snell; Davy Devereux, Shane Mooney, Darragh Fitzgerald; Padraig O’Toole, Dean Healy (0-01); Darren Hayden (0-02), Anto McLoughlin, Theo Smyth; Mark Kenny, Mark Doyle (1-01, 0-01f), Patrick O’Connor (0-01).
Subs: Chris O’Brien (0-01) for A McLoughlin (14, inj), Gearoid Murphy for M Doyle (57), Conor Healy for D Hayden (60), Conor McGraynor (0-01) for P O’Toole (67), Stephen Duffy (69).
Leitrim: Diarmuid McKiernan, Micheal McWeeney, Paddy Maguire (0-01), Aidan Flynn; Shane Quinn, Mark Plunkett, Ray Mulvey (0-01); Shane Moran (0-02), Pierce Dolan (0-01); Sean McWeeney, Domhnaill Flynn (0-02), Jack Heaslin (0-01); Damien Moran (0-03, 0-01f), Dean MCGovern, Ryan O’Rourke (1-03).
Subs: Evan Sweeney (0-01) for D Moran (38), Gary Plunkett (0-01) for D McGovern (48), Darragh Rooney for J Heaslin (60).
Referee: Niall McKenna (Monaghan)
Wexford, panned after last week's heavy loss in Leitrim, claimed a heartening victory over Antrim at Innovate Wexford Park this afternoon.
Paul McLoughlin's side made the decisive move in the third quarter, with Daithi Waters finding the net on 42 minutes. The goal arrived at a time when Wexford trailed by a point and had just been reduced to fourteen men by Glen Malone's sending off.
From there, they held their northern visitors at arms length, their lead never dipping below the three-point mark.
Jonathan Bealin's frees accounted for the rest of their scores, bar Ben Brosnan adding another point from play.
In the second game of what they no doubt hope is a short sampling of life in Division 4, Derry registered a second win, this time over London in Watty Graham Park.
At half-time, the scoreline didn't look too healthy for Damian McErlain's team. A goal from former Donegal All-Ireland winner Adrian Hanlon left the exiles only two behind at the interval.
Any fears that this might be another be another cheek-reddening landmark in Derry football's long decline dissolved in the second half as the home side cantered away in the third quarter. Emmet Bradley, in particular, filled his boots, landing a glut of points in the second period.
London struck the final three scores of the game but the Northerners had long since made sure of the result.
Limerick made it two from two in Division 4 with a comfortable six-point win over Waterford in Rathkeale.
The hosts shot into a 0-05 to 0-01 lead in the first 10 minutes and were never properly reeled in. It was 0-07 to 0-04 at half-time and the gap between the sides never deviated too much from that during the third quarter.
The win was more or less sealed on 60 minutes with Patrick Begley slipping home the game's only goal, making the score 1-11 to 0-07.
After that, the win was assured and Billy Lee's side ran out six point winners.