Last three points land first District title since 2013
ST. MARTIN’S 2-10 ST. ANNE’S 1-11
ST. MARTIN’S hit the last three points in an entertaining local derby in Tagoat on Sunday to secure the Permanent TSB Wexford District Junior ‘B’ hurling championship title for the first time since 2013 at the expense of near neighbours St. Anne’s.
Last year’s runners-up fell one point in arrears with just over seven minutes left when Brian Kavanagh edged the blues in front, but they made the most of their chances in the crucial closing stages.
Experienced substitute Phelim Crotty levelled from a Darragh Waters delivery before chances were missed at both ends, with St. Anne’s striking two wides on either side of an off target long-range free by Alan Kehoe for their rivals.
However, St. Martin’s hit the front at the vital juncture, almost two and a half minutes into added time, when Richard Devereux grabbed an attempted St. Anne’s clearance and returned it over the bar with interest (2-9 to 1-11).
And when Leo Burke burst out of defence and won a vital free, Alan Kehoe was coolness personified as he stroked it between the posts from 90 metres.
St. Anne’s did create enough late attacks to perhaps force extra-time, but a missed free preceded strong defending from the eventual victors who had lost at the same stage to Crossabeg-Ballymurn twelve months ago by nine points.
They came from behind to forge this win, as St. Anne’s had first use of the wind and held their opponents scoreless from play in the opening half as they established a 0-9 to 0-3 lead.
Those three Martin’s strikes from Alan Kehoe placed balls left them trailing 6-3 after 20 minutes, but St. Anne’s extended their advantage before the break with points from Dylan O’Brien (free), Robert Byrne and Niall Doyle (free) despite a rising wides tally of nine.
The wily Francis Simpson and Kevin White had contributed a brace of scores apiece beforehand, but St. Anne’s struggled to add to their tally when facing the elements on the re-start.
After a swift Aaron Clancy point, St. Martin’s were really back in business when a long line ball by Alan Kehoe was batted out into the path of Darragh Waters who first-timed it to the net in the 37th minute (0-9 to 1-4).
Waters and Micheál Lyng were denied goals shortly afterwards, but momentum swung towards the men in maroon as points from Lyng, Ryan Murphy and Lyng again pushed them clear for the first time.
The first of just three second-half scores for St. Anne’s came in the form of an equalising point by Francis Simpson in the 46th minute, and they looked to be back in business when Niall Doyle’s high delivery was finished to the net by substitute Diarmuid Kelly to create a 1-10 to 1-7 lead.
Just 60 seconds later the sides were level again though, as Alan Kehoe crashed a free to the net after a foul on Richard Devereux.
An exchange of points between Brian Kavanagh and Phelim Crotty left it all to play for, but Devereux and Kehoe (free) struck those late clinchers as the Martin’s third string ultimately accounted for the Anne’s seconds.
Under the new system introduced this year, both teams will contest county quarter-finals.
St. Martin’s: Michael Kearney; Cian Ryan, Martin Whelan, Derek Burrell (capt.); Michael Carroll, Ryan Murphy (0-1), Philip McDermott; Aaron Whitty, Richard Doyle; Aaron Clancy (0-1), Richard Devereux (0-1), Darragh Waters (1-0); Micheál Lyng (0-2), Alan Kehoe (1-4, 1-3 frees, 0-1 ’65), Jack Roche. Subs. - Leo Burke for Doyle, inj. (22), Phelim Crotty (0-1) for Clancy (41), Philip Coleman for Roche (60+6).
St. Anne’s: Paddy Miskella; Vincent Carroll, Robert Byrne (0-1), Gavin O’Brien; Michael O’Brien, Niall Doyle (capt., 0-3 frees), Paul McDonnell; Joe O’Connor, Jim Ryan; Brian Kavanagh (0-1), Francis Simpson (0-3), Kevin White (0-2); David Kavanagh, Dylan O’Brien (0-1 free), Barry Roche. Subs. - Conor Ryan for D. Kavanagh, inj. (30+4), Diarmuid Kelly (1-0) for J. Ryan, inj. (38), David Kavanagh for B. Kavanagh (60+1).
Referee: Niall McDonald (Crossabeg-Ballymurn).