Selfie time for the new Le­in­ster cham­pi­ons

All-Ire­land series awaits af­ter im­pres­sive pro­vin­cial win

New Ross Standard - - SPORT - ALAN AHERNE

Ed­die Power takes a selfie with his Fethard col­leagues and their new ar­rival, the Le­in­ster Ju­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship tro­phy, af­ter their im­pres­sive win over John Lockes (Kilkenny) in In­no­vate Wex­ford Park on Satur­day.

A FAB­U­LOUS per­for­mance in­spired by a pow­er­ful mid­field com­bi­na­tion and a supreme work ethic all over the field de­liv­ered pro­vin­cial glory for the Fethard hurlers in In­no­vate Wex­ford Park on Satur­day when they dealt ca­pa­bly with the John Lockes chal­lenge to be­come the first-ever Wex­ford win­ners of the AIB Le­in­ster Club Ju­nior cham­pi­onship.

A trip to Bri­tain on the last week­end of the month for the All-Ire­land quar­ter-fi­nal is the re­ward­ing prize for the seasiders who thun­dered into their Kilkenny op­po­nents from the off and were wor­thy win­ners af­ter an en­gross­ing con­test.

And that well-worn phrase, a cap­tain lead­ing by ex­am­ple, was par­tic­u­larly apt as the Fethard suc­cess was based around a bril­liant ex­hi­bi­tion of mid­field play from the tal­ented Gar­rett Fo­ley who had a most ca­pa­ble part­ner in John Tubritt.

The St. Mogue’s men cleaned up com­pletely in that key sec­tor, and this laid the plat­form for a vic­tory that has opened up all sorts of ex­cit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties for a team so well pre­pared by Lor­can and Paul Bar­den, Kevin Bol­ger and Matty Hy­land.

Fethard wel­comed the return of wing-back Richie Wa­ters from a one-game suspension, and they started brightly and never looked back.

The Dwyer brothers wore the op­po­site num­bers to those as­signed to them on the match pro­gramme, and if it was a ploy to ini­tially con­fuse John Lockes it worked.

Mikie, wear­ing 13 rather than 15, picked off two points in­side five minutes be­fore the Cal­lan side seemed to re­alise and switched their cor­ner-backs, with their free-taker James Power (son of for­mer Kilkenny great John) get­ting them off the mark in be­tween.

A lovely hand­pass­ing move be­tween John Tubritt and Mark Wal­lace ended with Gar­rett Fo­ley fir­ing over the first of his two points in the sev­enth minute, and it was clear that Fethard were in­tent on build­ing on those ear­lier pro­vin­cial wins over Naomh Bríd (Car­low) and Erin’s Isle (Dublin) re­spec­tively.

John Lockes man­aged to hit back as Robert Ker­wick picked off the first of just four points from play by the 2010 cham­pi­ons, who had beaten Adamstown in that year’s semi-fi­nal in Tagh­mon.

Power equalised from a free in the twelfth minute, but that was as good as it got for the vis­i­tors.

Daire Bar­den caught Seán Fo­ley’s puck-out and sent it swiftly be­tween the posts at the town end for a strong re­sponse, with a late tackle on Gar­rett Fo­ley pun­ished when Mark Wal­lace con­verted the free be­fore Ed­die Power made it 0-6 to 0-3 at the start of the sec­ond quar­ter.

Fethard won the sub­se­quent puck-out and, when Daire Bar­den’s de­liv­ery came off the fin­ger­tips of Lockes full-back Bill McDow­ell, the alert Gra­ham O’Grady was on hand to force the ball to the net from close range.

It was a tonic score for the wind-aided lead­ers who were lifted even fur­ther as Gar­rett Fo­ley claimed an­other point un­der strong pres­sure on the left be­fore Wal­lace nailed an­other free (1-8 to 0-3).

And although James Power (free) and Dan McCor­mack re­sponded, a half fea­tur­ing a mere two wides per team ended on a high for Fethard as a Wal­lace brace - the first from a free, and the sec­ond af­ter a Ciarán Dwyer cross­field pass and a neat dummy - left the reds with a hand­some 1-10 to 0-5 half-time lead.

One of the key ques­tions at the in­ter­val cen­tred on their abil­ity to main­tain such a sav­age workrate through­out.

And while some sort of John Lockes come­back was per­haps in­evitable given their Kilkenny pedi­gree and the fact the el­emenets were in their favour, they didn’t get any closer than four points un­til a late, late goal re­duced the fi­nal mar­gin to three.

James Power and Mark Wal­lace swapped points from frees be­fore the for­mer knocked an­other one over when play was called back af­ter his goal shot was saved by Seán Fo­ley.

A Ciarán Dwyer hand­pass picked out Gra­ham O’Grady to make it 1-12 to 0-7 in the 42nd minute, with Power scor­ing an­other free be­fore Ed­die Power - now at full-for­ward - nearly got on the end of a low ball from John Tubritt which drifted wide.

Dan McCor­mack pointed for Lockes, but their dis­ci­pline wasn’t the best and re­sulted in a num­ber of frees be­ing brought for­ward for dis­sent.

One such de­ci­sion led to Mark Wal­lace mak­ing it 1-13 to 0-9 at the start of the last quar­ter, but Fethard’s mettle was re­ally tested af­ter their ri­vals goaled in the 47th minute.

A danger­ous ball from vet­eran for­mer Kilkenny un­der-age star John O’Neill was flicked by McCor­mack into the path of sub­sti­tute Shane Ber­gin who buried the ball past Seán Fo­ley from the edge of the square.

Fethard needed a swift re­sponse and it came in the form of a Mark Wal­lace free, but Ryan Ber­gin’s re­ply en­sured that noth­ing was de­cided as the game en­tered the last ten minutes.

Gar­rett Fo­ley drove a ris­ing near-post wide from a half-chance for a goal af­ter an Ed­die Power hand­pass, with a key mo­ment fol­low­ing in the 54th minute.

Mikie Dwyer was clipped by cor­ner-back Cathal McGrath as he turned him fol­low­ing a neat Fo­ley pass, but it was a harsh call to dis­miss the Lockes man on a sec­ond book­ing.

How­ever, ref­eree Thomas Glee­son, a new ar­rival at this level, is get­ting a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing too fond of dish­ing out the cards, some­thing Fethard had ex­pe­ri­enced al­ready when he sent-off Richie Wa­ters in the quar­ter-fi­nal.

Mark Wal­lace pointed the sub­se­quent free to make it 1-15 to 1-10, with Ryan Ber­gin’s danger­ous de­liv­ery go­ing wide at the other end be­fore Mikie Dwyer sent over a beauty from a Wal­lace clear­ance.

The num­ber 11 had drifted back around his own half-back line af­ter the John Lockes dis­missal, and his ear­lier di­rect op­po­nent, cap­tain Owen McGrath, picked off a point be­fore Joe Bren­nan, one of the Cal­lan men­tors, was or­dered off the side­line and into the stand by the ref­eree.

The 60 minutes had al­most ex­pired when Gar­rett Fo­ley was fouled af­ter win­ning a Seán Fo­ley puck-out, and Mark Wal­lace stepped up to stretch the lead to 1-17 to 1-11.

The sec­ond John Lockes goal ar­rived over four minutes into added time af­ter yet an­other harsh yel­low was dished out, this time to Richie Wa­ters.

Ryan Ber­gin’s 20-me­tre free some­how beat the eight Fethard men on the line, and it was hearts in mouths time for their sup­port­ers when the same player lobbed one last ball around the square.

Thank­fully it was cleared to­wards the right side­line, be­fore the last blast of the ref­eree’s whis­tle led to joy­ous cel­e­bra­tions for the new cham­pi­ons of Le­in­ster whose dream year isn’t over yet.

Fethard: Seán Fo­ley; Martin Power, Rúairí Tubrid, Daniel Mullan; Richie Wa­ters, Kevin Rowe, Joe Sut­ton; Gar­rett Fo­ley (capt., 0-2), John Tubritt; Ed­die Power (0-1), Mark Wal­lace (0-9, 8 frees), Daire Bar­den (0-1); Ciarán Dwyer, Gra­ham O’Grady (1-1), Mikie Dwyer (0-3). Subs. - Brian O’Donoghue for Bar­den, temp. (30-HT), O’Donoghue for Bar­den (52), Dar­ren Fo­ley for E. Power (60+3), also Jesse Fo­ley, Christo­pher Mol­loy, Jimmy Sut­ton, John Rice, Shane Tubrid, Conor O’Donoghue, Seán Sut­ton, Ricky Rowe, Ciarán Fur­long, Paul Fo­ley, Seán Dono­hoe, James Dil­lon, Michael Roche, Bryan Power.

John Lockes: Ian Burke; Brian Kir­wan, Bill McDow­ell, Cathal McGrath; Tony De­laney, Owen McGrath (capt., 0-1), Ja­son Cor­co­ran; Jack McDow­ell, Seán Power; Paddy Kennedy, James Power (0-6 frees), Ryan Ber­gin (1-1, 1-0 free); Matthew Fog­a­rty, Dan McCor­mack (0-2), Robert Ker­wick (0-1). Subs. - Shane Ber­gin (1-0) for Fog­a­rty (HT), John O’Neill for J. McDow­ell (34), Conor Mur­phy for Kennedy (49).

Ref­eree: Thomas Glee­son (Dublin).

The Fethard squad prior to Satur­day’s Le­in­ster Club Ju­nior hurl­ing cham­pi­onship vic­tory in In­no­vate Wex­ford Park.

The Dwyer brothers, Ciarán and Mikie, out­num­ber­ing a John Lockes op­po­nent in Satur­day’s fi­nal.

Out­stand­ing mid­fielder Gar­rett Fo­ley catches with Daire Bar­den of­fer­ing sup­port.

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