Alley bounce back
Buffers Alley 2-17 Cloughbawn 1-17
Ten months ago Cloughbawn were gearing up for a county final appearance, but avoiding a relegation play-off will be their main concern now after shipping their third straight loss at the hands of a marginally better Buffers Alley side in this Pettitt's Senior hurling championship Group A game in Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday.
The tempo stepped up considerably in the second period after a woeful opening half featuring more wides (20) than scores (16).
And arguably the most important intervention of all came from Alley midfielder John Farrell in the 37th minute when he cancelled Cloughbawn's goal in an instant.
Connal Flood had given his side hope when he drifted in behind the full-back line to latch on to a Barry Carton line ball and finish with aplomb to the far top corner of the net, reducing the gap to 1-10 to 1-8.
However, Cloughbawn were immediately rocked when the puck-out broke kindly for Farrell who saw the ground open up in front of him as he powered forward before driving past Noel Carton.
Six points divided them entering the last quarter after a Harry Kehoe free drew two responses from impressive Alley centre-back Ross Donohoe ('65) and Paul O'Leary (2-12 to 1-9).
Kehoe had been well held by Seán Murphy up to that point, but he started to make the type of impression one would expect from a Wexford player and it coincided with a very bright spell for the 2016 runners-up.
Indeed, unanswered points from Barry Carton, Kehoe, Connal Flood and Kehoe again left just two between them before Seán Og Whelan steadied the Alley ship with a reply.
Kehoe made it a one-point game with seven minutes left from a free and play, but it was telling that the Gorey District crew never surrendered their lead even though the pressure did mount.
Paul O'Leary and Kehoe swapped points from frees, before another placed ball from Ross Donohoe was again cancelled out by Cloughbawn's inter-county attacker (2-15 to 1-17).
We were nearly 50 seconds into the four added minutes played at that stage, and the Alley crucially hit two late points to copper-fastern a hard-earned victory.
They had luck on their side for the first, as Noel Carton fumbled a mis-hit Willie Doran shot over the end line for a '65 converted by Donohoe.
And netminder Oliver O'Leary then came up with his party piece, trotting out from goal to land a free from all of 90 metres and leave the Alley with four points from a possible six as they bounced back from that late loss to championship surprise packets Oylegate-Glenbrien.
As stated before, the first-half was a very poor affair, featuring eleven Cloughbawn wides and nine from the Alley.
Six of the losers' misses came before Bob Whitty finally opened their account in the tenth minute, and they will look back with considerable regret on that poor start as the Alley were able to enjoy a four-point head start thanks to Willie Doran, Ross Donohoe, John Lee Meyler and Paul O'Leary.
In fairness, Cloughbawn did recover and actually moved 6-5 clear in the 24th minute after Paul Foley's second pointed free in quick succession.
The sides were level twice thereafter before the key score of the half arrived in the 30th minute when Andrew Kenny drilled the rebound to the net after John Lee Meyler's shot was saved by Noel Carton.
Meyler added a point for a 1-8 to 0-7 interval lead and, although Alan Carton pulled one back on the re-start, a quick brace from goalscorer Kenny left the Alley clear by 1-10 to 0-8.
That exchange of goals followed and, while Cloughbawn rallied for a second time, those missed chances early on came back to haunt them.
Buffers Alley: Oliver O'Leary (0-1 free); Ciarán Murphy, Ciarán Kenny (capt.), Paudie Reidy; Bobby Kenny, Ross Donohoe (0-5, 2 frees, 2 '65s), Seán Murphy; John Farrell (1-0), Kevin Roche; Seán Og Whelan (0-1), Willie Doran (0-2), Andrew Kenny (1-2); Pat Kenny, John Lee Meyler (0-2), Paul O'Leary (0-4, 2 frees). Subs. - Cormac Foley for Meyler (46), Robert O'Leary for Roche (56).
Cloughbawn: Noel Carton; Johnny Cullen, Tomás Furlong, M.J. Furlong; Barry Kehoe, Páidí Cullen, Colm Kehoe; Connal Flood (1-1), Barry Carton (0-3); Harry Kehoe (0-7, 4 frees), Alan Carton (capt., 0-1), Bob Whitty (0-2); Billy Wickham, David Doyle-Murphy, Paul Foley (0-3 frees). Subs. - James Dempsey for Foley (HT), Conor Harrington for Doyle-Murphy (HT), Doyle-Murphy for C. Kehoe (50).
Referee: Niall McDonald (Crossabeg-Ballymurn).