Tuesday 23 January 2018

Chin steers Harriers clear

St Anne's make the drop

Brendan Furlong

Faythe Harriers players commiserate with David O'Connor of St Anne's after the SHC relegation final
Faythe Harriers players commiserate with David O'Connor of St Anne's after the SHC relegation final

Lee Chin relished the challenge as he singlehandedly steered his side, Faythe Harriers to safety, albeit by the narrowest of margins in this Pettitt;s Wexford senior hurling championship relegation play-off with St. Anne's at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday afternoon.

Faythe Harriers 1-13 St Anne's 1-12

Contrasting fortunes have visited both club's over recent years as they struggle to cope with the demands of senior hurling.

St. Anne's last won a senior hurling title back in 2000 when they completed that historic 'double', a fate that has also visited the Wexford town club whose last senior success was back in 2001, having also completed that senior 'double' back in 1960.

In the beginning it was all about survival and this is how the game bottomed out for it was a struggle for both sides.

When it came to open hurling it was non-existant, and when one would look at the available statistics, this would be borne out, for these were two sides playing with a fear instead of an abandon, with the result it developed into just a dour struggle over the sixty minutes.

St. Anne's may have been crushed on the final whistle, but as a commentary as to where the two sides stand, either could have made the drop in status, for Faythe Harriers, Lee Chin apart, were unable to transform their game, and came ever so close to being demoted with the south county side failing to turn their two late chances into scores, which would have salvaged a game they struggled to come to terms with.

Faythe Harriers reaped the benefit of the outstanding Chin. His display at least put some gloss on a game that was dour, a struggle, little quality hurling, with the result it was always going to go right down to the wire. That Faythe Harriers survived should not be celebrated but act as a warning or a similar struggle will befall the side come 2017 unless they are able to bring a change of fortune to this struggling outfit.

The eventual winners, playing with the strong breeze, didn't exactly sprint from the blocks during that opening thirty minutes, despite racing into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead inside the opening eight minutes, through two long range Lee Chin pointed frees, and a Kevin Gore effort in between. St. Anne's had to wait until the thirteenth minute for their opening score a Mark Furlong pointed free, who repeated this at the end of the opening quarter to leave the minimum separating the sides, 0-3 to 0-2.

Points from a Rhys Clarke 65, conceded when Patrick Miskella excellently saved from Lee Chin whose run and shot had prised open the defence, and David Mooney extended their lead to 0-5 to 0-2, but on eighteen minute Red Barry swept onto a breaking ball to send a ground shot to the corner of the net, bringing the sides level 0-5 to 1-2.

Three minutes before the break a Lee chin run exposed the defence before the final pass was picked up by Rhys Clarke who found the net from close range. While St. Anne's finished the half with three unanswered points through Frannie Simpson, Diarmuid O'Keeffe and Red Barry, they still trailed by the minimum, 1-7 to 1-6, at the interval, but having wind advantage on the resumption.

After Mark Furlong, free, and David Mooney exchanged points on the resumption, it was Chin who sent over two huge long range points, one free, into the wind, scores that inspired his side, but with Mark Furlong pointing four frees along with a Dee O'Keeffe effort, it was St. Anne's who had foraged a 1-12 to 1-11 lead with six minutes remaining.

Five minutes from the end, a Chin free out of midfield had the sides level before sub Jack Murphy pointed his side in front three minutes from the end.

In one desperate final attack, Francis Simpson was presented with a chance, created space to the right of goal, but saw what appeared a goalbound shot excellently pushed to the left by the advancing Archie Scallan.

But the danger had not been averted for Dee O'Keeffe won possession but pulled his levelling point attempt across goal and wide, and with it their drop to intermediate status for 2017 was complete.

Faythe Harriers: Archie Scallan; Brendan Mulligan, Richie Kehoe, Ross Lynch; Alex Lynch, Colm Heffernan, Emmet Keeling; Alan Lynch, Lee Chin (0-6, 0-4 frees); Padraic Farrell, Jim Berry, Kevin Gore (0-1); Stephen Kearney, David Mooney (0-2), Rhys Clarke (1-2, 0-1 free, 0-1, 65). Subs: Jack Murphy (0-2) for Alan Lynch; Conor Halligan for Clarke; Shane Wilde for Kearney; Shane Howard for Farrell.

St. Anne's: Patrick Miskella; Paraic O'Keeffe, Tomas Cullen, Sean Gaul; Aidan Rochford, Diarmuid O'Keeffe (0-2), Cian McGovern; Seamus Mythen, Mark Furlong (0-8 frees); Joe O'Connor, Jonathan Fogarty, David O'Connor; Francis Simpson (0-1), David Fogarty, Red Barry (1-1). Subs:Liam Og McGovern for Joe O'Connor; Jess Codd for Jonathan Fogarty.

Referee: David O'Leary (Rathnure).

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