By Daragh Small
Katie Walsh starred with 2-5 as Sligo advanced to another TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Intermediate Football Championship semi-final, with victory over a determined Wicklow at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.
It sets up a repeat of last year's semi-final, where Tyrone were too strong and came out on top with a 1-16 to 0-11 victory in Cavan.
Beaten Connacht finalists Sligo impressed in the round-robin stage of the 2018 campaign and topped Group 1 after victories over Longford and Laois.
And they were 3-5 to 1-4 in front at half-time against Wicklow, with two goals from Katie Walsh and a third courtesy of fellow poacher Stephanie O'Reilly.
The game looked over but Wicklow launched a comeback after the interval and goals from Meadhb Deeney and Sarah Miley brought them back, but Sarah Reynolds clinched victory for Sligo.
Wicklow, who brought Irish international rugby star and 2011 All-Ireland junior winner Lucy Mulhall off the bench in the second half, scored first through a free from Deeney in the fourth minute, but even with the wind at their backs in the opening half they struggled to mount a challenge.
Paddy Henry's side hit back with a free of their own from Walsh and their first goal arrived in the tenth minute. Gráinne O'Loughlin and Denise McGrath combined in the build-up, while Katie Walsh applied the finish.
Sligo had scored 2-4 without reply before Wicklow got back on the scoreboard again. Stephanie O'Reilly and Katie Walsh linked brilliantly, and it was the former who scored 1-1 to help push Sligo 2-4 to 0-1 in front in the 17th minute.
Laura Hogan got a badly needed point for Wicklow but Walsh cancelled that out, and Jackie Kinch got her first to reduce the arrears again. But the killer third goal pushed Sligo out of touch.
Walsh was on target with it again, to bring her first half tally to 2-2 with nine minutes left before the break. And despite the efforts from Deeney and Kinch Sligo were already 3-5 to 1-4 in charge at half-time.
Wicklow came out firing at the start of the second half but they needed a goal and Noelle Gormley saved brilliantly from Hogan before Amy Murphy missed with the rebound.
They hit five points in a row but Gormley pulled off two more stunning stops to deny Hogan and Deeney, and Sligo were 3-5 to 1-9 in front, nine minutes after the resumption.
Wicklow had held Sligo scoreless since the 21st minute and Laura-Ann Laffey's point was a welcome reprieve in the 42nd minute.
Sligo's fourth goal was needed and substitute Reynolds came up with the crucial score with 16 minutes remaining.
Sarah Miley hit back but it was only a consolation and Laurie Ahern was sin-binned as Sligo cruised to victory.
Mulhall marked her comeback to county colours with a late score but it's Sligo who advance to the last four, and another date with Tyrone.
Scorers - Sligo: K Walsh 2-5 (0-4f), S O'Reilly 1-2, S Reynolds 1-1, D McGrath 0-2, LA Laffey 0-2, A McGrath 0-1.
Wicklow: M Deeney 1-3 (0-3f), J Kinch 0-4, S Miley 1-1, L Hogan 0-3 (0-1f), A Murphy 0-1, L Mulhall 0-1.
Sligo: N Gormley; A Morrisroe, E Codd, C Dunne; L Boles, G O'Loughlin, S Naughton; S Regan, KA Henry; N Brennan, S O'Reilly, LA Laffey; D McGrath, K Walsh, E O'Reilly.
Subs: S Reynolds for O'Loughlin (33), T Walsh for Naughton (45), M McCormack for E O'Reilly (53).
Wicklow: K Connors; E Mulhall, SJ Winder, A Gillen; S Hogan, L Fusciardi, A Conroy; N McGettigan, S Miley; M Deeney, J Kinch, L Ahern; A Murphy, C Walsh, L Hogan.
Subs: R Fagan for McGettigan (16), S O'Reilly for S Hogan (47), L Mulhall for Murphy (50), A Gorman for Fusciardi (54).
Referee: Eamonn Moran (Kerry).Tweet