Sars secure crown in replay
No late slips this time as Castle-Craan Gaels miss out
There were no late slips this time from Sarsfields in Oylegate on Sunday as the Páirc Charman boys drove past Castle-Craan Gaels to take the Wexford People Minor football Roinn 1 championship title.
Sarsfields 1-11 Castle-Craan Gaels 1-7
The Castletown/Craanford combination heroically came back from a six-point deficit in Innovate Wexford Park seven days earlier to take the lead, only for Sars to force a replay, but there was no such drama in the soggy back pitch in Oylegate.
Unsurprisingly, after torrential rain in the previous 48 hours, the playing surface was extremely heavy and certainly affected the quality of the game. However, there was no lack of energy or endeavour as both sides gave it everything for the cause.
There was bound to be a spell - there pretty much always is - that defined this final. It came in a 13-minute period straddling the end of the third and the start of the final quarter. In that time Sarsfields scored 1-6 of their tally to break clear.
There was little to suggest that such a spell was on the horizon when the sides slugged it out in a slippery first-half. The ball was like soap, the players were hitting the turf continuously, but the Butters built a 0-3 to 0-2 lead against the breeze.
Oisín Condren had kicked his side into an opening minute lead, only for Adam Dempsey, scorer of the equaliser in the first game between the sides, to level with a crisply-struck '45. Dylan Furlong ensured that both Wexford Youths under-age goalkeepers were on the board with a nice score one minute later.
Jamie Doyle replied in the 21st minute after nice inter-play with Frank Roche inside the Sarsfields half. Three minutes before the break Andrew Harrington tapped over from the left of the posts while referee James Owens was playing an advantage for a foul on team-mate Furlong.
Castle-Craan Gaels levelled 16 seconds after the resumption through James Smyth. They took their second and final lead five minutes later when Robbie Brooks tapped over from Shane Halpin's crossfield ball.
At 0-4 to 0-3 ahead, the Gorey District side had a chance for a vital goal. Darragh Brooks fed Smyth on the run but the Craanford clubman's shot was saved low by an alert Jake Clancy in the Sars goal.
It proved to be huge as three minutes later the Wexford town club hit the front. Having had no joy going long, they finally worked the ball well through the hands with Fiach O Crualaoich, Dylan Furlong and Seán Hopkins all involved in the build-up that released Adam Dempsey to coolly slot past Thomas Furlong.
The goal undoubtedly lifted Sarsfields. They started to win everything in the middle third and the points began to flow. Harrington kicked a couple of frees before Danny Walsh saw his shot tipped over the crossbar by Furlong (1-6 to 0-4).
Castle-Craan Gaels hit back with their only score of the spell when Darragh Brooks tapped over a free in the 48th minute. It only momentarily halted the victors who added scores from Cathal Kirwan, Seán Hopkins and Harrington to increase the advantage to seven (1-9 to 1-5).
Darragh Brooks gave his side a glimmer of hope, punching home his brother Robbie's ball into the goalmouth. However, Sars replied with points from Harrington and Conal Ó Crualaoich to all but put the contest to bed.
Despite a couple of injury-time points from Darragh Brooks and Jamie Doyle, there was little Castle-Craan Gaels could do to deny Sarsfields a richly-deserved title after a fascinating game of football.
Sarsfields: Jake Clancy; Dáire Reville, Adam Roche, Rian Carty; Adam Carroll, Fiach O Crualaoich, Shane Hall; Cathal Kirwan (0-1), Dylan Furlong (0-1); Seán Hopkins (0-1), Adam Dempsey (1-1, 0-1 '45), Conal Ó Crualaoich (0-1); Seán Banville, Danny Walsh (0-1), Andrew Harrington (0-5, 3 frees). Subs. - Conor Hillis (capt.) for C. Ó Crualaoich (60+1), Terry Whitty for Reville (60+3), also Darragh Goodison, Ryan Dempsey, Conall Clancy, Liam Kehoe, Eoghan Goodison, Shane Bergin, Cameron Farrell, Ben Butler, Gary Carroll, Lee Whelan.
Castle-Craan Gaels: Thomas Furlong; Ross Coady, Martin Doyle, Jack Kehoe; Cillian Pierce, Frank Roche, Jim Kenny; Oisín Condren (capt., 0-1), Rory Heffernan; James Smyth (0-1), Jamie Doyle (0-2), Cian Bealin; Shane Halpin, Robbie Brooks (0-1), Darragh Brooks (1-2, 0-1 free). Subs. - Danny Doyle for Bealin (59), Eoin Cullen for Halpin (60+3), Eoin Buckley for Kehoe (60+5), also Seán Dunne, Andrew Byrne, Páraic Redmond, Eoin Doyle.
Referee: James Owens (Kilrush).