Ferns flourish with late burst
Harriers squander big lead
Ferns St. Aidan's snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with an incredible scoring burst in the last 20 minutes of Sunday's Pettitt's Senior hurling championship Group B clash with Faythe Harriers in Innovate Wexford Park.
Ferns St.Aidan's 0-22 Faythe Harriers 0-18
The town team were very much in the driving seat near the end of the third quarter when they led by 0-16 to 0-10, having added an unanswered four points to their interval advantage of two.
Lee Chin had been truly inspirational from centre-forward, firing over a superb seven points from play including four on the trot in a magical spell between the 26th and 29th minutes.
Both sides had lost key players before the tide turned, with Richie Kehoe exiting for the Harriers with an injury to his left knee just before Chin took centre stage.
However, that was balanced out when Ian Byrne had to depart with an apparent problem with a calf muscle just four minutes into the new half.
Ferns seemed lost for a while, with Chin continuing to shine against Declan Byrne after original marker Ciarán Roberts was relieved of his duties.
It left one wondering why the Gorey District side didn't assign the man-marking task to James Tonks, a player with inter-county experience, rather than keeping him in a sweeping role.
However, they persisted with their tactics and ultimately it all paid off as a staggering twelve of the last 14 points were registered by the red and whites from the 42nd minute onwards.
Both sides were in dire need of victory after first round defeats, and Ferns really clicked into gear after Christopher O'Connor took over the free-taking from Paul Morris following Ian Byrne's departure and picked off a brace near the end of the third quarter (16-12).
Another couple from play by Morris suggested that there was more to come from Ferns, and it was a one-point game when Benny Jordan split the posts with a wind-aided free from all of one hundred metres in the 47th minute (16-15).
Suddenly Ferns were winning everything in the middle third and the supply lines to Lee Chin were cut off.
Another free from O'Connor levelled matters and the cracks were appearing rapidly in the Harriers make-up.
They were lucky to escape when a puck-out was directed over the sideline, but a stray clearance was gobbled up by Tommy Dwyer who put Ferns in front for the first time in the 50th minute.
Substitute Lee Murphy did manage to stop the rot with a leveller, only for O'Connor to make it 18-17 from a free after a surging run by Ciarán Roberts.
Yet another placed ball point from O'Connor was followed by a catch and neat finish from substitute Ryan Nolan, with Rhys Clarke pulling one back from a free before Ferns made doubly sure of success in added time with the last two scores from Jonny Dwyer and an O'Connor '65.
A couple of very good Clarke points from near the right sideline had helped the Harriers to lead by 0-12 to 0-10 at the break, although the main difference was provided by Chin with that four-point masterclass close to the interval.
The one decent goal chance had fallen to Ferns in the twelfth minute, but Christopher O'Connor didn't connect properly with his pull and it was saved on the line by John Walsh.
Mickey Laffan's side were probably happy to be just two points adrift with wind advantage to come, but the situation changed when the Harriers hit the first four scores when play resumed. Ferns had made it even harder on themselves, but their finish was admirable as they atoned for the one-point reversal to Cloughbawn eight days earlier.
Ferns St. Aidan's: Michael Walsh; Brian O'Neill, John Breen, Pádraig Bolger; Aaron Collier, James Tonks (capt.), Declan Byrne; Ian Byrne (0-3, 2 frees, 1 '65), Benny Jordan (0-4, 1 free); Paul Morris (0-4), Tommy Dwyer (0-1), Ciarán Roberts; Jonny Dwyer (0-2), Peter Codd (0-1), Christopher O'Connor (0-6, 5 frees, 1 '65). Subs. - Ryan Nolan (0-1) for I. Byrne, inj. (34), Tomás Hawkins for Codd (57).
Faythe Harriers: John Walsh; Brendan Mulligan, David Mooney, Ross Lynch; Emmet Keeling, Richie Kehoe (0-1), Alex Lynch (capt.); Wayne Mallon, Alan Lynch; Shane Wilde, Lee Chin (0-8, 1 free), Kevin Gore; Rhys Clarke (0-7, 4 frees, 1 '65), Pádraigh Farrell (0-1), Jim Berry. Subs. - Michael Hanrahan for Alex Lynch (13), Daniel Lynch for Kehoe, inj. (23), Lee Murphy (0-1) for Hanrahan (40), Stephen Kearney for Mallon (48), Colm Heffernan for Wilde (55).
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Blackwater).