Martin’s lift first U-20 hurl­ing top grade ti­tle

Team of all the tal­ents too strong for Gorey in de­cider

Wexford People - - SPORT - ALAN AHERNE in Ferns C.O.E.

THE TEAM of all the tal­ents added an­other piece of sil­ver­ware to an ever-grow­ing col­lec­tion in the Halo Tiles Ferns Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence on Wed­nes­day when St. Martin’s swept to an im­pres­sive 14-point win over Naomh Eanna in the in­au­gu­ral Green­star Un­der-20 hurl­ing Di­vi­sion 1 championship fi­nal.

While the mar­gin wasn’t as large as the 4-27 to 2-14 score­line in the cor­re­spond­ing Un­der-21 de­cider twelve months ago, in truth the dif­fer­ence be­tween the teams was ev­ery bit as pro­nounced in an en­counter that never really got off the ground de­spite an im­mac­u­late play­ing sur­face and a fine crowd.

Quite sim­ply, there wasn’t a sin­gle weak link for the Gorey lads to ex­ploit on a pol­ished win­ning team, with the saints adding this first Un­der-20 crown to their Un­der-21 dou­ble of 2016 and 2017.

And in do­ing so they wel­comed the re­turn to ac­tion of star man Rory O’Con­nor af­ter his knee in­jury, a sight that will have par­tic­u­larly pleased the men­tors with the club’s Se­nior team.

Naomh Eanna cap­tain Gary Mol­loy moved to mid­field im­me­di­ately af­ter the throw-in to mark his county col­league who was able to ease him­self back into com­pet­i­tive ac­tion on a night when he had more than enough team-mates to do the heavy lift­ing.

He did pick off one classy point from tight to the left side­line in the 40th minute, and St. Martin’s started to ease away there­after as it was the first of six scores on the trot that pushed them 18-8 clear.

Be­ing the sec­ond-best team in the county for two years run­ning is an achieve­ment in it­self for Naomh Eanna, given the qual­ity of the side above them in pole po­si­tion.

Wing-back Seán De­laney was out­stand­ing for three-quar­ters of the game, while Sea­mus O’Don­nell had a great bat­tle with Zac Fir­man in the full-back line, and Char­lie McGuckin was eas­ily their most in­ven­tive and threat­en­ing for­ward.

How­ever, they needed more from their four county men - Eoin and Gary Mol­loy, Jack Cullen and Jack Cushe - in or­der to cause an up­set. While the quar­tet tried very hard, the bet­ter bal­ance of the win­ners en­sured they were on a hid­ing to noth­ing.

It was notable that, ev­ery time Gorey did some­thing pos­i­tive, their ri­vals hit back im­me­di­ately. For ex­am­ple, some hope ap­peared af­ter fall­ing be­hind by 0-18 to 0-8 when Cullen goaled in the 50th minute shortly af­ter mov­ing to full-for­ward.

The re­ply was in­stan­ta­neous though, as less than 40 sec­onds later a hand­pass by Jack Dev­ereux put Conor Cole­man through for a clin­i­cally-taken goal.

Sim­i­larly, Char­lie McGuckin caught an Aaron Byrne puck-out and fired over one of the best points of the game in the 58th minute, but the im­me­di­ate re­sponse saw Ben Mad­dock spray a pass in­side to the pro­lific Cole­man who split the posts.

All six for­wards, plus mid­fielder Mad­dock, hit one point apiece from play as St. Martin’s moved into an in­ter­val lead of 0-11 to 0-5.

On an­other night their ten firsthalf wides, plus seven more af­ter the break, might have been an is­sue, but not on this oc­ca­sion as they were sim­ply in a dif­fer­ent class to their promis­ing ri­vals.

Naomh Eanna needed to set­tle im­me­di­ately, but that didn’t hap­pen as they also fired three ef­forts off tar­get (from an over­all tally of eight) be­fore Mad­dock opened the scor­ing in the fifth minute.

St. Martin’s were never headed, and led by 0-6 to 0-1 at the end of the first quar­ter as Conor Cole­man, Jack Dev­ereux, Zac Fir­man and free-taker Kyle Fir­man (two) all reeled off points.

A good block by Sea­mus O’Don­nell had de­nied Zac Fir­man a goal, and Nathan Byrne’s twelfth-minute point came as a wel­come respite for the north county side.

They fared bet­ter in the sec­ond quar­ter, scor­ing four points while con­ced­ing five, but the goal they needed didn’t ar­rive. Their best attempt in the 22nd minute saw a kicked ef­fort by sub­sti­tute Dar­ragh Cana­van kept out by Cal­lum Quirke, with play called back for a free con­verted by Jack Cullen.

Gorey did re­sume brightly as Gary Mol­loy and Jack Dev­ereux swapped points be­fore placed balls by Jack Cushe and Jack Cullen nar­rowed the gap to four (0-12 to 0-8).

How­ever, Rory O’Con­nor re­sponded with that classy point, and more fol­lowed from the three Fir­mans, Zac, Conor and Kyle (two), along with Dev­ereux.

Not alone did St. Martin’s can­cel that Jack Cullen goal in­side a minute cour­tesy of Conor Cole­man, they also fin­ished on a real high with a sec­ond ma­jor in added time.

And it was a fi­nal score that fully un­der­lined their strength, with full-back Philip Dempsey burst­ing down the right flank be­fore find­ing Cole­man who in turn teed up team cap­tain Barry O’Con­nor for an em­phatic fin­ish.

St. Martin’s: Cal­lum Quirke; Sam Aud­s­ley, Philip Dempsey, Cian Ryan; Michael Codd, Conor Fir­man (0-1), Adam Cantwell; Ben Mad­dock (0-1), Rory O’Con­nor (0-1); Jack Dev­ereux (0-3), Barry O’Con­nor (capt., 1-1), Ben Stafford (0-1); Conor Cole­man (1-5, 0-1 free), Kyle Fir­man (0-6, 3 frees), Zac Fir­man (0-2). Subs. - Eoin O’Leary for Stafford (56), Philip McDer­mott for Z. Fir­man (57), Conor Dev­ereux for Aud­s­ley (60+2), also Jack Roche, Peter Barry, Paddy Gal­lagher, Conor Kelly, Liam O Lionáin, Shane Walsh, Stephen Doyle, Rory Cullen, Conor Stafford, Aaron Clancy, James Mer­nagh, Bran­don Dodd.

Naomh Eanna: Aaron Byrne; Sea­mus O’Don­nell, Eoin Mol­loy, Seán Dowl­ing; Evan O’Dwyer, Gary Mol­loy (capt., 0-1), Seán De­laney; Jack Cullen (1-3, 0-3 frees), Jack Cushe (0-3, 2 frees); Michael Mol­loy, Char­lie McGuckin (0-2), Jack Doran; Ed­die O’Brien-Mur­phy, Cil­lian Dono­hoe, Nathan Byrne (0-1). Subs. - Dar­ragh Cana­van for M. Mol­loy, inj. (9), Shane Stokes for Dono­hoe (37), Larry Cullen for N. Byrne (56), also Pa­trick Dwyer, Jor­dan Nolan, Eoghan Collins, Cian Kenny, Mikey Cushe.

Ref­eree: John O’Lough­lin (Monageer-Boolavogue).

The tri­umphant St. Martin’s squad with the spoils of suc­cess.

Barry O’Con­nor re­ceives the tro­phy from An­drew Egan (Green­star).

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