Kildare set up a Leinster SFC quarter-final meeting with Longford in two weeks' time after withstanding a late comeback from Wicklow at Netwatch Cullen Park.
The wasteful Lilywhites made extremely hard work of seeing off their Division 4 opponents who made them sweat before Neil Flynn's late free ended their fightback. Cian O'Neill's charges appeared to be coasting to victory when they led by 0-13 to 0-6, but a Darren Hayden goal with 10 minutes remaining set the cat among the pigeons. Patrick O'Connor followed up with a point two minutes later, but Wicklow then missed a couple of guilt-edged chances before Flynn's injury-time effort finally settled it.
With Kevin Feely a dominant figure around the middle of the field, Kildare were by far the better team in the first half, yet only led by 0-9 to 0-4 at the interval. Ben McCormack and Adam Tyrrell gave them an early 0-2 to 0-0 lead before the Garden County levelled through Patrick O'Connor and Mark Kenny.
McCormack and Kenny traded points, but John Evans' men then went 20 minutes without scoring as Tyrrell, Paddy Brophy and Eoghan O'Flaherty (four) fired the hot favourites into a commanding lead. Kildare would have been further in front but for poor finishing as Conor McGraynor completed the first half scoring for Wicklow in the 32nd minute.
Theo Smith narrowed the gap further, only for Kildare to push out their lead to 0-12 to 0-5 thanks to three unanswered points from Tyrrell, Fergal Conway and David Hyland. A brace of Adam Tyrrell frees cancelled out points from Padraig O'Toole and Dean Healy before Hayden's goal made for a tense finish.
But Kildare held on.
Kildare - M Donnellan; M Dempsey, M Hyland, D Hyland (0-1); P Kelly, E Doyle, K Cribbin; K Feely, F Conway (0-1); D Slattery, B McCormack (0-2), E O’Flaherty (0-4, 2f, 1'45); A Tyrrell (0-5, 4f), P Brophy (0-1), J Hyland. Subs: C O’Donoghue for K Cribbin, N Flynn (0-1f) for E O’Flaherty, C Hartley for B McCormack, T Moolick for D Slattery, J Gibbons for A Tyrrell.
Wicklow - M Jackson (0-1); E Murtagh, R O’Brien, J Snell; D Devereux, S Mooney, D Fitzgerald; D Healy (0-1), P O’Toole (0-1); D Hayden (1-0), A McLoughlin, T Smith (0-1); M Kenny (0-2), C McGraynor (0-1f), P O’Connor (0-2). Subs: C McGee for A McLoughlin, C O’Brien for C McGraynor, O Manning for S Mooney, D Keane (0-1) for D Hayden, S Kieron for P O’Toole.
Referee - N Mooney.Tweet