There are films you forget as soon as the credits roll, songs you tune out on after a couple of verses and there are football matches you know will only fleetingly trouble the memory banks.

Sadly, this was one of those. Kildare won. Diligently and doggedly but you’d really be hoping for more against a team that operated two divisions below them in the league just finished.

For all Oisín McConville’s Ulster pragmatism and organisation, Wicklow looked rather limited in talent and ambition, but their more highly ranked neighbours made heavy weather of the task in front of them.

It seems to be how the Lilywhites do things these days. Perspiration but very little inspiration. Joyless for those watching, an apparent chore for young men churning mechanically through the playbook on the field. Football by rote. In fairness Kildare are hardly unique in that regard in the modern inter-county game.

Despite a good crowd and the unexpected arrival of championship weather in April, it was one of those low-key affairs that never really took flight, with Wicklow well in touch at 0-5 to 0-4 after an opening 25 minutes in which, being kind, Kildare needed to blow out some dirty diesel.

Alex Beirne and Jack Robinson were each on target twice for Kildare during that early spell, the Naas man proving a forceful presence around the field in the first half and taking his two points well from range.

Robinson, too, on his championship debut showed plenty of class, with two effortlessly floated points briefly eclipsing the mundanity of it all. He had faded a little after the break, and stringing a full game together has so far proven to be a gap in his armoury, but his relatively early substitution was disappointing.

It was only when Glenn Ryan’s side started to push up on Mark Jackson’s restarts heading towards the half-time break that they started to put Wicklow under any sort of pressure. That forced him to go long, and Kildare eagerly pounced on loose ball around the middle. That possession yielded five points to just one in return before the interval with Ben McCormack another to land two fine scores from long distance.

That burst gave them a 10-5 lead and the gap could have been more substantial had a Darragh Kirwan effort not hit the side netting after 26 minutes. Kirwan was heavily involved throughout, not always troubling the scoreboard himself but certainly giving the Wicklow defence plenty to think about while winning frees or setting up scores for colleagues.

We’ll gloss over the attempt from a mark in the second half and one or two other aberrations. Such are the frustrations that still come with the Kirwan package and to be fair, the good outweighs the less good most of the time.

Having set themselves up for a comfortable enough second half, Kildare seemed to lose any rhythm in a turgid third quarter that saw the sides register just four points equally between them, a Robinson free and Paul Cribbin’s first after replacing McCormack sandwiching Wicklow points from JP Hurley and a Quinn free.

That latter score had come just after Wicklow passed up the opportunity to really ratchet up the pressure if they could have taken advantage of a penetrating move that opened up their first goal chance. Fortunately for Kildare, Jack Kirwan’s fisted pass across goal couldn’t find a colleague and the hard-working Cribbin was on hand to tidy up.

Kildare’s own game had unravelled somewhat during that spell, with Kevin Flynn, McCormack and Kevin O’Callaghan shooting poor wides and referee Martin McNally causing consternation on the sideline when disallowing a Woodgate point from a free after the Raheens man was deemed to have stolen a few yards ahead of the appointed spot. Technically correct no doubt but a crime rarely punished.

With Kildare getting frustrated by their own deteriorating performance, the Wicklow crowd roused for the first time when Kirwan and Quinn pointed to narrow the gap to three with eleven minutes remaining. Could an improbable shock still be on the cards?

The answer was immediate and a positive one for Kildare. Straight after that score from Quinn, the talented youngster who was well-shackled by Eoin Doyle, a late replacement for the injured captain Mick O’Grady, substitute Paddy McDermott gobbled up a loose ball in midfield and sent Flynn clear through the heart of the opposition defence. He offloaded to Woodgate and his well-struck right footed shot found Jackson’s net.

Kildare went on to outscore the Garden County five points to one in the remaining action to give the scoreboard a more convincing look, Paul Cribbin bringing his contribution to three points in a cameo from the bench on his 100th appearance for the Lilywhites in all competitions.

Another experienced substitute Neil Flynn also got himself on the scoresheet and with Kevin Feely and Daniel Flynn also getting some minutes into their legs Kildare had significantly more impact from their bench than McConville’s side.

It was, though, a performance that would have caused little concern among any watching Dublin spies with the daunting semi-final pencilled in for next Sunday in Croke Park (4pm).

If Offaly win the curtain-raiser against Louth, Kildare will know that only a win against the perennial Leinster Champions will rescue their hopes of competing in the Sam Maguire Cup. A Down win against Armagh, throwing in at the same time as Kildare do, would have the same impact.

As the great George Hamilton once warned in relation to a different code: Danger Here!!

KILDARE: Mark Donnellan; Eoin Doyle, Shea Ryan, Darragh Malone 0-1; David Hyland, Kevin Flynn 0-1, Jack Sargent; Kevin O’Callaghan, Aaron Masterson; Barry Coffey, Ben McCormack 0-2, Alex Beirne 0-2; Jack Robinson 0-3 (1f), Darragh Kirwan 0-2, Paddy Woodgate 1-2 (2fs). Subs: Paul Cribbin 0-3 for McCormack 48, Paddy McDermott for Coffey 51, Daniel Flynn for Robinson 51, Kevin Feely for Masterson 54, Neil Flynn 0-1 for Woodgate 66.

WICKLOW: Mark Jackson 0-2 (2fs); Eoin Murtagh, Paul McLoughlin, Malachy Stone; Fintan O’Shea, Patrick O’Keane, Zach Cullen; Dean Healy 0-1, Pádraig O’Toole; Cillian McDonald, JP Hurley 0-1, Jack Kirwan 0-1; Mark Kenny 0-1, Kevin Quinn 0-2 (1f), Eoin Darcy 0-2 (2fs). Subs: Karl Furlong for O’Shea 43, Darragh Fitzgerald for Kenny 49, Gearoid Murphy for Darcy 58, Joe Prendergast for McDonald 65, Jacques McCall for Cullen 70.

REFEREE: Martin McNally (Monaghan)

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