Solid start boosts saints
A strong first-half was the basis for a thoroughly deserved St. James' victory in the Foxe Cup final at Cushinstown on Friday.
St. James' 1-16 Rathgarogue-Cushinstown 2-8
The hurling tournament gives New Ross District clubs the chance to get more game-time into the legs of their players throughout the summer months, plus it allows one club the opportunity to add some early season silverware.
When a trophy is on the line there's always likely to be a little spark and this game certainly wasn't played like a gentle run in the park. It was tetchy at times and the longer it went on the more both clubs wanted the bragging rights.
The hosts actually started the brighter. After Paddy Murphy tapped over, Ollie Bolger robbed possession in the St. James' defence before haring away into space and shooting low past John McDonald to the net.
Yet, the visitors responded well and worked their way level by the 13th minute. Shane Murphy nailed three frees while Kevin O'Grady popped over a pair of points as Rathgarogue-Cushinstown really struggled to contain the nippy forward.
After an exchange of classy points by Jason Dunne and Donal Barron, St. James' hit the front for the first time when O'Grady hared 30 metres untouched before firing low and powerfully past Colin Whelan to make it 1-6 to 1-3.
Back came Rathgarogue-Cushinstown with arguably the goal of the match. James Devereux fizzed a chest high ball in to Daire Bolger, one-on-one with the last defender. The pacey forward broke to his right, made a yard of space and flashed across McDonald to the net.
Parity lasted just a minute as St. James' fired off five points in a row to end the half, although they had a right to feel aggrieved at the break, with referee Jack Stafford scoring them 1-10, despite the victors raising eleven white flags to their opponents 2-3 in the first period.
The second-half proved to be a tighter affair. Rathgarogue-Cushinstown, aided by two Bernard Furlong points, started brightly and closed the gap to three. However, they would never shut it further.
Scores from Murphy, Molloy and Alan Walsh kept the hosts at arm's length in the middle part of the half. St. James' had the luxury of bringing on Graeme Molloy with five minutes to go and he helped settle his team down.
Ramsgrange did survive a scare when Jason Dunne rattled the crossbar. However, they added late scores from Barron and Shane Murphy as they saw off a Rathgarogue-Cushinstown club which has had recent success in this tournament.
The Ted Foxe Cup was presented by his daughter, Caroline Foxe, to St. James' captain Mark Molloy. These sides won't meet in championship this year, but if the Ramsgrange club can continue to produce the level of performance they reached in the first-half then regular meetings are just around the corner.
St. James': John McDonald; Brian Molloy, Paul Barron, Thomas Walsh; Adam Long, Liam Murphy, David Doyle; Mark Molloy (capt., 0-2), Robert Murphy; Donal Barron (0-2), Kevin O'Grady (1-3), Alan Walsh (0-1); Shane Murphy (0-7, 6 frees), Mark Myler (0-1), Jack O'Brien. Subs. - John Ryan for O'Brien (37), Graeme Molloy for Myler (55).
Rathgarogue-Cushinstown: Colin Whelan; Peadar Cody, Paudie McGrath (capt.), Francis O'Brien; Eoin Whelan, Daniel Martin Carroll, Aaron Ryan; Enda Doran, Paddy Murphy (0-1); Jason Dunne (0-1), Ollie Bolger (1-0), Tadhg Cody; James Devereux, Bernard Furlong (0-2), Daire Bolger (1-4, 0-4 frees). Subs. - Brian Cody for T. Cody (45), Brian O'Neill for Murphy (45).
Referee: Jack Stafford (Clongeen).