Rampaging Rory in fine form for St Martin's
Centre-forward was in majestic form
A masterful display from Rory O'Connor propelled St Martin's past Rathnure and into the Wexford People Coiste na nOg Minor hurling championship final in Taghmon on Saturday morning last.
St Martin's 1-18 Rathnure 0-10
The centre-forward was in majestic form swatting over points from long range at will - ending the afternoon with a tally of eight - as the Piercestown based side bossed the second half to reach the decider again.
The 2014 champions are also in the football final and they will feel that there's no reason why a double isn't around the corner based on this classy display with fine contributions all over the field.
In particular the full-back line was exceptional. It was obvious early in the second half that Rathnure would need goals to get back into the game and they certainly went searching for them.
However, led by Johnny Hamilton in the centre, the trio of inside-backs didn't give an inch and was arguably the most impressive line on the field for the victors.
There was little to choose between the teams as they went score-for-score up to 0-4 apiece after twelve minutes. Then St Martin's manufactured the goal that gave them an interval advantage.
Kyle Firman and Conor Coleman converged on the same ball close to the Rathnure goal, the former claimed possession, darted into space, fed Nicky Greene and the powerful wing-forward found Peter Farrell's net.
Rathnure couldn't quite get back on terms in the second quarter despite Ciaran O'Connor hitting seven points and St Martin's went in at the interval with a three-point lead (1-9 to 0-9) and any advantage in the wind to come.
The only Rathnure score of the second half was a James Tobin 35th minute point that countered Rory O'Connors fourth minor of the afternoon. O'Connor added four of the next five as his side moved 1-15 to 0-10 clear after 47 minutes.
While Rathnure kept fighting, St Martin's were just too strong to let their advantage slip at all. They ended as 11-point winners and will go into the county final as warm favourites to retain their title.
St Martin's: Dylan Byrne; Pauric Rossiter, Johnny Hamilton, Martin Whelan; Darragh Rossiter, Aaron Maddock, Michael Codd; Conor Firman (0-5, 4 frees), Barry O'Connor; Darren Codd (capt), Rory O'Connor (0-8), Nicky Greene (1-2); Conor Coleman, Joe O'Connor (0-1), Kyle Firman (0-1). Subs. - Cian Ryan for Whelan, inj (42), Darragh Kenny (0-1) for B. O'Connor (48), Adam Cantwell for J. O'Connor, inj, (60+1), also, Callum Quirke, Peter Barry, Ciaran Dunne, Philip McDermott, Stephen Doyle, Eoin O'Leary, Ben Maddock, Philip Dempsey, Jack Devereux, Maurice Walsh, Cian Kelly.
Rathnure: Peter Farrell; Eoghan Byrne, Denis Maher, David McGahan; Cathal O'Connor, Bryan Quigley, Niall Dillon; Eoin Higgins (capt, 0-1), Thomas Foley (0-1); Rory Higgins, Seanie Redmond, Ciaran O'Connor (0-7, 4 frees, 1 '65); Paddy Flynn, James Tobin (0-1), Michael Martin. Subs. - Ben Ronan for Cathal O'Connor (31), Sean O'Connor for Martin (49), Philip Redmond for Dillon (58), also, Michéal O'Connor, Dylan Hogan, Darragh Reddy, Stephen Martin.
Referee: John Carton (Monageer-Boolavogue)