Ferns pushed all the way by Réalt
Ferns St. Aidan's 2-6 Réalt na Mara 2-3
Hosts ferns kicked off the second-half of their Gorey Guardian Coiste na nÓg Under-16 Roinn 1A football Championship campaign with a hard-fought victory over Réalt na Mara on Monday.
The victors had lost their last group game before the break against a strong Rathgarogue-Cushinstown side and were short of several regulars for this encounter through injury and holidays.
However, their visitors were missing a few too and it made for an even, exciting contest between two sides who have probably done more work in training on their hurling skills than with the big ball.
That said, there was plenty of excitement in a topsy-turvy first-half. Réalt na Mara began on the front foot, building well with their hard-working midfield and talented half-forward line. Eoin Canavan opened the scoring with a nice point from Luke Greene's feed.
Target man Martin O'Loughlin had a knack for drawing markers. Powerful as he was, the big forward was often surrounded but when he forced the ball over to Greene in the sixth minute the chance looked to have gone. However, soccer-style, the centre-forward fired across goal to the opposite corner of the net.
Things looked bleak for the hosts when Kyle Moore-Kavanagh released O'Loughlin and, off goalkeeper Evan Murphy's fingertips, he made the net bulge in the eighth minute, sending his side 2-1 to nil ahead.
Slowly Ferns found their feet. Tom Browne's shot was tipped over the crossbar by the impressive Charlie Freegroves.
However, there was nothing the visiting 'keeper could do to deny Seb Rynhart from netting with a classy finish across goal moments later.
Points from Pádraig Kinsella and Barry O'Toole narrowed the deficit to one (2-1 to 1-3), only for Canavan and Greene to reply at the other end. In truth, it could have been worse for Ferns but they somehow escaped several ropey situations intact.
When late scores from Adam Breen and Rory Scallan left them just one down at the interval (2-3 to 1-5), the St. Aidan's lads were right in position to pounce. For the first time since they fell behind, Ferns levelled the game in the 33rd minute through Breen.
Amazingly, the winning score came with a full 25 minutes remaining. Scallan was the creator with the run and feed to Pádraig Kinsella, but it was the talented wing-forward who provided the classy finish to the net.
Moore-Kavanagh whacked the post for Réalt na Mara as the half wore on, while at the other end Rynhart missed a great chance to wrap up the points. However, neither side scored again, meaning Ferns took the hard-earned spoils.
Ferns St. Aidan's: Evan Murphy; Bob Byrne, Alex Rothwell, Ryan McDonald; Joe Byrne, Rory Scallan (0-1), Barry Murphy; Seb Rynhart (1-0), Adam Breen (0-2 frees); Tom Browne (0-1), Barry O'Toole (0-1), Pádraig Kinsella (1-1); Byron Jordan, Eoin Murphy, James Kinsella. Sub. - Adam Quinn for J. Byrne (36).
Réalt na Mara: Charlie Freegroves; James Lawless, Seán O'Leary, Martin McCarthy; Farrell Doyle, Adam Earle, Joe Woods; Aaron Hall, Joseph Burke; Eoin Canavan (0-2), Luke Greene (1-1), Kyle Moore-Kavanagh; J.J. Tomkins, Martin O'Loughlin (1-0).
Referee: James Owens (Kilrush).