Two-goal burst the key to Harriers win
Oylegate-Glenbrien faded near end
Two goals in less than 60 seconds ensured that the Enniscorthy Guardian Juvenile hurling Premier championship title headed back to Wexford town after Faythe Harriers edged Oylegate-Glenbrien in Taghmon on Saturday.
Faythe Harriers 2-8 Oylegate-Glenbrien 1-5
The Páirc Charman boys were trailing by 1-5 to 0-5 in the last ten minutes but there always looked to be a sting in the tail of this title decider. When Glen Murphy-Butler converted his second free in the 52nd minute the deficit was down to two.
Richie Lawlor has been pegged as one to keep an eye on for some time. Part of the Harriers' victorious Féile team this year, the talented Under-14 started this game on the substitutes' bench for his side.
However, he had already made an impression before latching onto a misplaced clearance in the Oylegate-Glenbrien defence, racing into the clear and coolly dispatching low past Kevin Cosgrave to the net.
It gave Faythe Harriers their second lead, their first since Fiachra Hourihane equalised their opening point in the eighth minute. It wounded Oylegate-Glenbrien, badly. In fact, it was a hammer-blow that was almost impossible to overcome.
For the previous 55 minutes they had defended as well as is humanly possible to defend. The full-back line was faultless, absolutely magnificent, repelling wave after wave of Faythe Harriers attacks.
The goal broke them. Seconds later Conor Kehoe cut in from the right corner, was at an impossible angle but still somehow flipped his finish past the onrushing Cosgrave to the Oylegate-Glenbrien goal.
The Harriers added further points through Conall Clancy and Murphy-Butler. By the time the 60 minutes of normal time were up, the soon-to-be victors were leading by 2-8 to 1-5.
The Enniscorthy District side laid siege to the Harriers goal in added-time. Joe Dunne was fouled but Hourihane's 20-metre free was deflected wide. Then Niall Parker had a shot blocked for a '65.
However, no miracle was forthcoming and the game was up after four minutes of stoppage time. Referee Gearóid McGrath's full-time whistle brought jubilant scenes among Harriers players and supporters alike.
It truly was a clash of downright relentless defending. Both back sevens were immense but the Oylegate-Glenbrien performance was built on how well they played and defended as a team. The stalls were set out in the opening period.
Conor Kehoe opened the scoring with a fifth-minute minor from Reece Murphy's pass down the right, but it was countered by Hourihan's dead-ball after his team-mate Joseph Whelan was fouled.
A move that flowed right to left, from Joe Dunne and through Hourihane ended with James Moulton making it 0-2 to 0-1. Yet the sides ended the opening quarter deadlocked following Clancy's opening point, a nice individual score.
Paudie Casey was creator of the next two scores and they were enough to give his side a 1-3 to 0-4 interval lead.
Moulton tapped over the first before Casey won the ensuing puck-out and found Dunne who netted with a sublime finish.
Two late points from Kehoe, after a Conall Ó Crualaoich assist, and then Murphy-Butler, following a foul on Chris Glover, left two between the sides at the change-around.
The Harriers pressed after the break but didn't score until Clancy's '65 narrowed the gap to one (1-3 to 0-5) in the 40th minute.
Having not scored for 27 minutes, Oylegate-Glenbrien broke their duck at the start of the final quarter with Casey on target after strong play by Garry Conroy.
Dunne tapped over from Adam Gethings' pass to make it 1-5 to 0-5 after 48 minutes but the Harriers dominated the final ten minutes to take the title.
Faythe Harriers: Josh Sheil; Jake Clancy, Cillian Gahan, Emmet Nolan; Josh McMahon, Josh O'Connor, Lee Nolan; Conall Ó Crualaoich (capt.), Reece Murphy; Gary Carroll, Conall Clancy (0-3, 1 '65), Ryan Furlong; Glen Murphy-Butler (0-3 frees), Chris Glover, Conor Kehoe (1-2). Subs. - Richie Lawlor (1-0) for Glover (31), Kyle Scallan for Carroll (48), also Jack Nolan, Jack Finucane, Cian Ó Finneadha, Cian Twomey, Josh Murphy, James Ryan, Shadrak Nkabinde, Brian Deeny.
Oylegate-Glenbrien: Kevin Cosgrave; Mike Nolan, Niall Parker, Tomás Cosgrave; Danny Ryan, Michael Kinsella, Peter Rowley; Paudie Casey (0-1), Garry Conroy; Adam Gethings, Fiachra Hourihane (0-1 free), James Moulton (0-2); Joe Dunne (1-1), Joseph Whelan, Conor Nolan (capt). Subs. - Mikey Kelly for Gethings (60+2), Adam Byrne for Whelan (60+4), also Bobby Freeman, Niall Mernagh.
Referee: Gearóid McGrath (St. James').