Joy for Fethard with derby win

Wal­lace sinks for­mer col­leagues with late pointed free

Wexford People - - SPORT - ALAN AH­ERNE in In­no­vate Wex­ford Park

THE FAB­U­LOUS winning run of Fethard con­tin­ued in In­no­vate Wex­ford Park on Satur­day when they qual­i­fied for The Court­yard Ferns In­ter­me­di­ate hurl­ing cham­pi­onship fi­nal at the first at­tempt with a one-point win over shat­tered neigh­bours St. James’.

Mark Wal­lace may have started out with the Rams­grange club, but he is a long-time St. Mogue’s man at this stage and his late in­ter­ven­tion was enough to leave the vic­tors just one hour away from be­ing a Se­nior team once again for the first time since 2001.

Two meet­ings were needed to sep­a­rate the sides in the In­ter­me­di­ate ‘A’ fi­nal two years ago be­fore St. James’ pre­vailed, while they also drew in their re­cent group game in Horeswood, so it was no sur­prise when an­other share of the spoils seemed likely with time run­ning out.

Fethard full-back Kevin Rowe did an out­stand­ing job in keep­ing ri­val dan­ger­man Shane Mur­phy, the scor­ing star of their quar­ter-fi­nal win over Cross­abeg-Bal­ly­murn, in a firm grip.

The full-for­ward had been sub­sti­tuted, but when he was re-in­tro­duced in the 56th minute af­ter an in­jury to Donal Bar­ron, his first task was to con­vert a free for the equaliser (0-15 to 1-12).

Alan Walsh, the best St. James’ for­ward, had a brief chance to hit a fifth point but was de­nied by some last-gasp de­fend­ing by Richard Wa­ters, and 20 sec­onds later Mark Wal­lace came into his own.

Show­ing out in front for the ball at the Clonard end, he was taken down for a free and duly split the posts with 54 sec­onds of nor­mal time to go.

Matthew O’Han­lon was pre­sented with a dif­fi­cult chance to equalise af­ter the puck-out, and his ef­fort from tight to the right touch­line drifted nar­rowly wide on the far side of the posts.

Just two added min­utes were played, and when a Michael O’Grady line ball at mid­field was cut out by Daire Barden, the full­time whis­tle brought joy to the large crowd of Fethard fol­low­ers who have backed their side to the hilt in Lon­don, Croke Park and nu­mer­ous more mun­dane places over this glo­ri­ous twelve months.

In terms of a con­test, it took a long time to get go­ing which was no real sur­prise given the huge prize on of­fer and the strong fa­mil­iar­ity be­tween the par­tic­i­pants.

It started to get lively in the ten min­utes be­fore the in­ter­val, and the break that fol­lowed came at the worst pos­si­ble time as the early stages of the sec­ond pe­riod also lacked any real spark.

How­ever, that tight fin­ish made up for it, and Fethard won’t mind the tag of un­der­dogs at all as they now pre­pare to tackle Clough­bawn af­ter their 2-18 to 0-14 loss to the hot favourites early last month.

Once again, Matthew O’Han­lon started at right half-for­ward, with for­mer county Un­der-21 Rúairí Tubrid handed mark­ing du­ties.

And while the joint Wex­ford cap­tain hit a cou­ple of poor wides by his stan­dards, he fi­nally got his eye in from the 24th minute on­wards as his three points helped St. James’ to a 0-10 to 1-5 in­ter­val lead.

Alan Walsh was very im­pres­sive in the left cor­ner, match­ing that in­di­vid­ual tally from O’Han­lon, but the big score of the half, and in­deed the en­tire match, was reg­is­tered at the other end.

It was the last one be­fore the in­ter­val, 40 sec­onds into added time, and it gave Fethard a tremen­dous lift at a time when they had con­ceded three points on the trot and seemed to be los­ing out in the phys­i­cal stakes.

Dar­ren Fo­ley de­liv­ered a high ball to the town end where Mark Wal­lace con­tested it in the air with net­min­der Graeme Mol­loy, and when it hit the ground the for­ward grabbed a pre­cious goal at the sec­ond at­tempt.

It left Fethard trail­ing by just two points at the break af­ter a half which didn’t pro­duce a score un­til Gra­ham O’Grady pointed for the even­tual win­ners in the ninth minute.

Shane Mur­phy lev­elled from a free be­fore David Doyle and Alan Walsh pushed St. James’ into a 3-1 lead, and it was 4-2 by the end of the first quar­ter af­ter a Mark Wal­lace free drew a re­sponse from Walsh.

Wal­lace (free) and John Tubritt equalised but the re­ply was strong as Donal Bar­ron, Alan Walsh and Matthew O’Han­lon made it 0-7 to 0-4 by the 24th minute for the Rams­grange men, who had never got to this stage be­fore in the club’s his­tory.

Ciarán Dwyer pulled back a Fethard point on an af­ter­noon when their win was all the more im­pres­sive given that his younger brother, Mikie, was an ab­sen­tee once more due to in­jury.

Af­ter Mark Mol­loy pointed, an O’Han­lon brace was sand­wiched by a save by Graeme Mol­loy from a John Tubritt shot on goal, but the for­mer county foot­ball full-back was beaten by Mark Wal­lace in added time and it was a ma­jor mo­ment.

Fethard re­sumed with Joe Sut­ton at mid­field and Daire Barden at cen­tre-back, and the for­mer con­trib­uted two vi­tal points in the third quar­ter.

St. James’ points from Donal Bar­ron and Mark Mol­loy brought re­sponses on both oc­ca­sions, first from a Mark Wal­lace free and then from the same player from play.

That Sut­ton brace left Fethard level (1-9 to 0-12) by the 45th minute, and it re­mained that way af­ter St. James’ sub­sti­tute Michael O’Grady and Wal­lace again reg­is­tered from placed balls.

An­other re­place­ment, Bryan Power, edged Fethard ahead be­fore Wal­lace made it 1-12 to 0-13 af­ter he was fouled with just over nine min­utes left.

An in­stinc­tive pick and point by Alan Walsh, plus that Shane Mur­phy free af­ter his re­turn to the fray, height­ened the pos­si­bil­ity of a re­play, but Wal­lace’s late in­ter­ven­tion en­sured a de­served fi­nal ap­pear­ance that few, if any, neu­trals would have en­vis­aged at the out­set of the cam­paign.

Fethard: Seán Fo­ley; Daniel Mul­lan, Kevin Rowe, Martin Power; Richard Wa­ters, Joe Sut­ton (0-2), Rúairí Tubrid; Daire Barden, Gar­rett Fo­ley (capt.); Ciarán Dwyer (0-1), John Tubritt (0-1), Gra­ham O’Grady (0-1); Mark Wal­lace (1-7, 0-6 frees), Dar­ren Fo­ley, Jimmy Sut­ton. Subs. - Bryan Power (0-1) for Jimmy Sut­ton (36), Adam Swan for Dwyer (48), Ed­die Power for D. Fo­ley (52).

St. James’: Graeme Mol­loy; Paul Bar­ron, Ja­son Bar­ron, Tommy Walsh; Dar­ragh Lyons, Liam Mur­phy, Rob­bie Bar­ron; Mark Mol­loy (0-2), Brian Mol­loy; Matthew O’Han­lon (0-3), David Doyle (capt., 0-1), Daniel Keat­ing; Donal Bar­ron (0-2), Shane Mur­phy (0-1 free), Alan Walsh (0-4). Subs. - Michael O’Grady (0-1 free) for S. Mur­phy (44), Mark Myler for T. Walsh (52), Shane Mur­phy (0-1 free) for D. Bar­ron, inj. (56).

Ref­eree: Barry Red­mond

(Clonard).

A de­ter­mined Martin Power (Fethard) beats Daniel Keat­ing of St. James’ to the ball.

Kevin Rowe of Fethard winces as Shane Mur­phy chal­lenges.

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