Martin's make light work of the Sars in dead rubber
Two teams poles apart in terms of priorities met in the ultimate definition of a dead rubber in this fixture-fulfilling exercise in Group B of the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.
St. Martin's 4-21 Sarsfields 2-10
St. Martin's were guaranteed to finish first regardless of the outcome, and they had bigger fish to fry as they discovered on Friday night that their quarter-final opponents will be St. James' in a repeat of last year's decider.
In contrast, Sarsfields found themselves in the no man's land of fifth spot for the second year running, merely playing for pride in the jersey. And they could also console themselves to some extent in the fact that a very young squad had preserved the second-best record of Senior survival in the county.
The Wexford town team have now played in the top flight every year since 1980, and only Castletown - competing at Senior since 1961 which is a tremendous achievement - have a better record.
St. Martin's decided to rest all of their Minors for this game given their punishing schedule and this, coupled with defender Mark Maloney's wedding and some injuries, left them low in numbers.
There will be some concern at the fact that captain Daithí Waters had to depart clutching his left side just before half-time, while they played the last ten minutes with only 14 men after Paudie Kelly left the fray and wasn't replaced.
Given that St. Martin's led by 3-18 to 0-10 at that stage, it didn't matter in the slightest.
Sarsfields had first use of the wind but knew they were in for a tough night from as early as the seventh minute when Harry O'Connor earned a penalty and Ciarán Redmond tucked it home (1-2 to 0-2).
Redmond himself was fouled for another spot kick in the 15th minute and, though Eoin Healy saved his first attempt, the rebound fell kindly for the corner-forward who made no mistake.
An interesting backdrop to the game was the presence of a father and son on opposing sides, with Sarsfields manager Kevin Carty shown no mercy by Martin's full-forward Jamie who finished with 1-6 from play.
It was 2-10 to 0-7 in favour of the men in maroon at half-time and, given that they had wind advantage to come, there was nothing to determine other than the winning margin.
St. Martin's had registered 2-7 before kicking the first of eleven wides in the 24th minute, and it was 2-16 to 0-9 by the time Seán Stafford ensured that all of their forwards had scored midway through the third quarter.
Eoin Healy made a good save to deny Ciarán Redmond his hat-trick in the 44th minute as the rain fell in torrents, but less than 60 seconds later his kick-out went straight to Paudie Kelly who calmly lobbed him for an audacious goal.
There was one stand-out booming point from almost 55 metres by Joe Coleman before Jamie Carty was picked out by Seán Stafford for an easy finish and a 4-21 to 0-10 lead.
At least Sarsfields managed the last two scores, and both were goals. Paul Gannon got the first from a Dylan Furlong pass despite the best efforts of Tomás Hayes to keep it out, while Senior debutant Danny Walsh - one of six teenagers on the team - added a second after a quick free from Warren Broaders was blocked.
St. Martin's: Tomás Hayes; Harry O'Connor, Daithí Hayes, Joe O'Connor; Jake Firman, Aaron Maddock, Ryan Murphy (0-1); Daithí Waters (capt., 0-1), Patrick O'Connor; Edward O'Byrne (0-1), Paudie Kelly (1-1), Joe Coleman (0-3); Seán Stafford (0-3), Jamie Carty (1-6), Ciarán Redmond (2-5, 1-0 pen., 0-3 frees). Sub. - Mikey Coleman for Waters, inj. (26).
Sarsfields: Eoin Healy; Fiach O Crualaoich, Seán O Corcora (capt.), Cillian Lawlor; Fran Cleary, Warren Broaders, Adam Carroll; Conor Halligan (0-1), Eoin Roche (0-2); Paul Gannon (1-1), Dylan Furlong (0-1), John Gannon (0-1); Danny Walsh (1-0), Lee Walker, Shane McGrath (0-4 frees). Sub. - Colm O Corcora for J. Gannon (42).
Referee: Niall McDonald (Crossabeg-Ballymurn).