Wicklow boosted their Division Four campaign with a hard-fought but well-earned 1-15 to 1-10 win over Sligo at Aughrim.
With the big breeze generated by Storm Dennis supposed to make it a game of two halves at the Wicklow venue, it was the hosts that coped well in each period and were full value for their five-point victory.
The winners, for whom midfielder Dean Healy and inside forward Seanie Furlong impressed, led by 1-10 to 1-05 at the interval after a wind-assisted first-half.
Half a dozen first-half wides didn't hamper Wicklow either as Davy Burke’s charges scored five points into the breeze, equalling Sligo’s haul from the second half.
This loss puts the brakes on Sligo’s momentum from the opening two rounds when Paul Taylor’s men won two games to end a painful and lengthy losing streak for the Connacht county.
But even with the game going away from them in the closing stages, Sligo almost carved an equalising score.
With just three points between the sides, 1-13 to 1-10, substitute David Quinn's directed a goal attempt just wide after a slick build-up involving team captain Patrick O’Connor.
Wicklow, who were denied a second-half goal in the 55th minute when Conor Byrne’s low shot came off the base of the upright, reacted to this late let-off by tacking on two late points through Mark Kenny and substitute Eoin Darcy.
The home side knew that first-half wind advantage demanded they bring a sizeable cushion into the second period.
Therefore Seanie Furlong’s goal after three minutes – from an Andy Maher pass – was the perfect start.
With 12 minutes played Wicklow were 1-03 to 0-02 up – their early scores all good efforts from distance – but Sligo’s careful passing game against the wind and their gradual winning of kick-outs put Wicklow under pressure.
Wing-back Sean Carrabine’s 15th-minute goal from Cian Lally’s assist brought Sligo level, 1-03 each, and within five minutes points from goalkeeper Aidan Devaney and midfielder Patrick O’Connor had the visitors in front.
But Sligo failed to score for the remainder of the first half. Wicklow got back on track and five unanswered points, including fine efforts from Andy Maher and Chris O’Brien, left them five points clear at the break, 1-10 to 1-05.
This lead proved to be enough during a second half in which Sligo never pushed on, even with the wind in their favour, as Wicklow wisely slowed the game down when they could and still broke through for vital scores.
Both teams finished with 14 players due to black cards. Stephen Coen was the Sligo player sent to the sin bin on the stroke of full-time and Wicklow’s Dean Healy received a similar sanction in the fifth minute of time added on.
Wicklow: M Jackson (0-02, 2f); A Maher, J Snell, J Hamilton; P O’Kane, D Keane, D Devereux; P O’Toole (0-01), D Healy (0-02); R Finn (0-01), M Kenny (0-02), D Hayden (0-01); S Furlong (1-03, 2f), C O’Brien (0-02, 1f), C Byrne.
Subs: E Darcy (0-01) for Byrne (60), P O’Rourke for Maher (65), O Manning for Hamilton (70), T Kearns for Devereux (70), G Murphy for O’Brien (70).
Sligo: A Devaney (0-02, 1f, 1 '45’); JF Carr, E McGuinness, M Gordon; N Mullen, P McNamara, S Carrabine (1-00); P O’Connor (0-03, 2f), P Kilcoyne; G O’Kelly-Lynch, D Cummins, N Ewing; L Gaughan (0-03, 1f), C Lally (0-01), S Coen.
Subs: P Hughes (0-01) for Cummins (ht), R Murphy for Mullen (52), K Cawley for Ewing (55), D Quinn for Lally (65).
Referee: Kevin Faloon (Armagh).