Desire drives Gusserane on
GAA: football club championships - Gusserane 4-13, St Martin's 2-12
Two quickfire goals at the opening and near the end of this contest helped a hungry Gusserane side to a fully-merited win over St. Martin's in Group A of the Senior football championship in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.
They couldn't have asked for a better start, with Mark Rossiter and Adrian Flynn hitting the back of the net inside the opening four minutes, and Shane Flynn and Graeme Cullen sealed the deal when they both raised green flags late on.
The winners can look forward to a meeting with champions Shelmaliers in the last eight, while table-toppers St. Martin's will face Starlights in the quarter-finals.
Gusserane had to win this one to be sure of taking their place in the knockout stages, and the desire was there for all to see from the off as they ran straight at the heart of the St. Martin's defence.
Their direct approach paid dividends inside the first 50 seconds as Graeme Cullen and Páraic Conway linked up well before feeding Mark Rossiter, who buried the ball to the net.
St. Martin's responded well in a frenetic opening, with Jack Devereux and Daithí Waters both splitting the posts, but they were quickly rocked back on their heels again as Gusserane pounced for their second major.
Conway and Seán 'Mini' Ryan were involved in the free-flowing build-up, and the wily Adrian Flynn had the routine task of palming the ball to the net.
St. Martin's don't do panic though, and they methodically played their way back into the game to reduce the gap to two (2-3 to 0-7) by the 18th minute, with Jamie Carty and Darren Codd both knocking over a couple of points and Kyle Firman also getting in on the act.
However, Sam Wall and Adrian Flynn (two) kept the scoreboard ticking over for the New Ross District side, and they twice went close to plundering their third goal of the half.
First Seán 'Mini' Ryan blazed an effort wide of the target, and then Sam Wall was found by Páraic Conway, but his shot was bravely smothered by goalkeeper Luke White.
An eye-catching point on the turn from Adrian Flynn on the 20-minute mark gave Gusserane a three-point buffer, but that advantage was wiped out four minutes later when Jack Devereux passed to Kyle Firman who cleverly made space for the shot before planting the ball into the corner of the net.
Flynn and Darren Codd then swapped frees, and it was all to play for in the second-half with the sides deadlocked at 2-5 to 1-8.
Gusserane's need for victory was greater though, and whatever was said at half-time must have been still ringing in their ears as they burst out of the traps, with Adrian Flynn popping over two frees, either side of a Seán Ryan point.
With John Roche influential in the middle of the park, they managed to keep their opponents at arm's length thereafter, with Flynn converting a couple more placed balls and Páraic Conway splitting the posts.
And when Mark Rossiter pumped over a sweet effort in the 54th minute to give them a four-point advantage (2-12 to 1-11), one could sense they weren't for catching.
That belief was heightened two minutes later when they grabbed their third goal, with Shane Flynn applying the finish after fellow substitute Shane Cullen had done the donkey work.
Ciarán Lyng was given the opportunity to grab a consolation for St. Martin's from the penalty spot in the 60th minute after a foot block on Conor Firman, and he made no mistake, clinically finding the right-hand corner of the net.
However, Gusserane had the final say in the third minute of injury time when Graeme Cullen's lung-bursting run saw him collect a pass from Adrian Flynn before dispatching the ball to the net.
Gusserane: Micheál Ryan; Jack Burford, Gavin Sheehan, Jack O'Connor; Adrian Redmond, Mark O'Neill, Graeme Cullen (capt., 1-0); Cillian Kehoe, John Roche; Tom Foran, Mark Rossiter (1-1), Páraic Conway (0-1); Sam Wall (0-1), Adrian Flynn (1-8, 0-5 frees), Seán Ryan (0-2). Subs. - Shane Flynn (1-0) for Foran (35), Fintan Ryan for O'Connor (41), Shane Cullen for Kehoe (48), Eoin Ryan for Conway (60).
St. Martin's: Luke White; Michael Codd, Philip Dempsey, Harry O'Connor; Adam Cantwell, Conor Firman, Jake Firman; Daithí Waters (capt., 0-2), Jamie Carty (0-2); Joe Coleman, Paudie Kelly, Darren Codd (0-3, 2 frees); Jack Devereux (0-1), Ciarán Lyng (1-2, 1-0 pen., 0-2 frees), Kyle Firman (1-2). Subs. - Joe O'Connor for H. O'Connor (23), Patrick O'Connor for Coleman (HT), Mikey Coleman for Cantwell (39), Peter Barry for Devereux (41), Diarmuid Barry for Codd (44), Ryan Murphy for Waters (54).
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Blackwater).