Martin's Minor magic seals double
St. Martin's mastered the treacherous conditions with a powerful performance in Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday, completing the Wexford People Minor Premier championship double with a very impressive victory over Abban O'Rahilly's.
St. Martin's 2-9 Abban O'Rahilly's 1-3
The Adamstown and Gusserane combination tried their hardest at all times but simply came up against a better all-round team whose use of the ball when playing into the elements was every bit as good as when the strong, swirling wind was at their backs.
Indeed, it says everything about the quality of this St. Martin's team that all six attackers plus both midfielders managed at least one score from play. That would be a notable feat on a sunny summer's day, so it was even more praiseworthy given the awful conditions which prevailed.
It was St. Martin's second success at this level, after their first title in 2006, and they are the fourth club in the last seven years to complete the Minor Premier double, following in the footsteps of Glynn-Barntown (2009), Shelmaliers (2010) and Rapparees-Starlights (2013).
The driving rain and strong wind ensured that scores were going to be scarce, with just four recorded in the opening half after Abban O'Rahilly's captain Ciarán Conway won the toss and elected to play with the elements.
And it was looking bleak for his team at half-time when they trailed by 1-1 to 0-2, with St. Martin's more composed when in possession as the experience gained by their big guns in recent weeks shone through. In contrast, Abban O'Rahilly's had been waiting for this final since September 2 and had lost the services of a key player in Jack Burford, making a tough task even harder.
St. Martin's monopolised the ball early on but could only muster two wides from Darren Codd (free) and Joe O'Connor, with their rivals eventually lifting the siege but also squandering a couple of chances, the first when a short free came to nothing after it should have been tapped over the bar.
The opening score finally arrived in the ninth minute when Darragh Kenny set up Barry O'Connor for a St. Martin's point, with Abban O'Rahilly's coming close to levelling when a Mark Rossiter line ball from the left struck the far post and was cleared.
However, the New Ross District crew did equalise from a Rossiter free in the 16th minute, although they found chances hard to come by as a resolute St. Martin's defence - marshalled by Rossiter's Wexford Junior colleague, Aaron Maddock - stood up well to any pressure.
Joe O'Connor kicked another Martin's wide before full-forward Darragh Rossiter raced through on a strong run, only to see his shot saved by Pádraig Kavanagh at the expense of a fruitless '45.
The key score of the opening half arrived in the 21st minute when Darren Codd delivered a teasing ball into the danger zone from the right flank, and Darragh Kenny was on hand to fist it to the net.
It pushed St. Martin's ahead by 1-1 to 0-1 and, although Sam Wall replied with the sole Abban O'Rahilly's point from play after a Seán Barden pass, three wides followed which didn't help their cause.
Given their fine support play and handling when faced by the elements, St. Martin's were fancied to inflict further misery on Abban O'Rahilly's who lost the Minor Roinn 1 hurling final to Oulart-The Ballagh.
And they set about their task early in the second-half, with Darren Codd cutting in from the right to fist a point before a good run by the influential Joe O'Connor set up Peter Barry to make it 1-3 to 0-2.
And a bad situation for the group team was rendered even worse when a Barry handpass left Darragh Rossiter with another clear run at goal, and this time he made no mistake with a net-rippling shot in the 40th minute.
It was a remarkable day for the Rossiter family as, while Darragh and his twin Pádraig were sharing in this victory, one of their sisters, Ciara (who is also a twin as it happens), was scoring a goal for Wexford Youths Women in their historic FAI Cup final win at the Aviva Stadium.
That second major left St. Martin's in a very strong position, and it was embellished even more as Conor Coleman, Darren Codd (free), Joe O'Connor and Coleman again added four points in less than three minutes as they attacked the Abban O'Rahilly's kick-out with serious intent.
It would have been easy for the eventual losers to throw in the towel, but in fairness that's not in the nature of footballers from Adamstown and Gusserane. And while Martin Fitzharris drew a good save out of Nicky Greene after a solo run early in the 49th minute, the netminder was beaten just over 30 seconds later when the '45 which resulted from Mark Rossiter broke in the square and was finished to the net by midfielder Liam Stafford (2-7 to 1-2).
Rossiter dented the lead further with a pointed free, but St. Martin's maintained their grip at all times and had the last word with the final two points from midfielders Conor Firman and Barry O'Connor to complete the perfect season.
St. Martin's: Nicky Greene; Martin Whelan, Johnny Hamilton (joint capt.), Pádraig Rossiter; Maurice Walsh, Aaron Maddock, Rory O'Connor; Barry O'Connor (0-2), Conor Firman (0-1); Darren Codd (joint capt., 0-2, 1 free), Joe O'Connor (0-1), Darragh Kenny (1-0); Conor Coleman (0-2), Darragh Rossiter (1-0), Peter Barry (0-1). Subs. - Cian Ryan for Walsh (49), Michael Codd for Whelan (55), Philly McDermott for Barry (57), Ciarán Dunne for Coleman (60), also Dylan Byrne, Kyle Firman, Callum Quirke, Stephen Doyle, Cian Kelly, Shane Parle, Adam Cantwell, Jack Devereux, Fionn O'Leary, Ben Maddock, Philip Dempsey.
Abban O'Rahilly's: Pádraig Kavanagh; Gavin Sheehan, Ciarán Conway (capt.), James O'Shea; Tomás French, Seán Barden, Donal Kiely; Liam Stafford (1-0), John Roche; Martin Fitzharris, Mark O'Neill, Ronan Waters; Sam Wall (0-1), Mark Rossiter (0-2 frees), Harry Cosgrave. Subs. - Tommy Ryan for French, inj. (37), Andrew French for Barden (60), J.P. Furlong for Waters (60+1), also Micheál Ryan, Rory Foran, Matthew Redmond, Jack Burford, Seánie O'Neill.
Referee: John Carton (Monageer-Boolavogue).