Fancied Gusserane return to Junior final
Gusserane 2-17 St. Mary's (Rosslare) 0-12
Gusserane copper-fastened their standing as favourites for the Permanent TSB Junior hurling championship after producing a blistering finish to blow away their dogged opponents in their semi-final in a blustery Killurin on Saturday.
Last year's beaten finalists always looked the more likely winners, but the Rosslare crew hung on in there and with the breeze at their backs they only trailed by four points with ten minutes remaining.
Midway through the second-half, when the game was still in the melting pot, St. Mary's twice came close to grabbing a goal that could have made the world of difference, but once Gusserane put the foot down with the winning line in sight they had no answer, with Mark O'Neill, in particular, finishing with a flourish.
The New Ross District side had looked the better outfit in the early stages, although scores were harder to come by, with Páraic Conway opening their account, Seán 'Mini' Ryan adding two trademark efforts, and Graeme Cullen splitting the posts to give them a four-point advantage by the midway point in the first-half.
Philip Lambert gathered an Andrew Murphy pass and popped the ball over the bar to get St. Mary's off the mark and, after Mark O'Neill and Adrian Redmond had stretched the Gusserane lead to 0-6 to 0-1, the Rosslare side began to really get to grips with the game.
Paul Kinsella (free) and Tiarnan Rossiter cancelled out efforts from Sam Wall and Adrian Redmond, and when Ultan Quirke squeezed the ball through the posts from a prohibitive angle in first-half injury time to leave just four between the sides (0-8 to 0-4), it looked somewhat promising for the Wexford District outfit, with the elements in their favour after the break.
However, in the third minute of first-half injury time Robert Browne did well to steal possession, and when the ball was launched forward Seán Ryan picked out the run of Mark Rossiter who planted a shot past Niall Walsh to give Gusserane a timely boost.
Naomhan Rossiter managed to pare one point off the lead seconds later, but St. Mary's had it all to do, trailing by six points at the interval.
It they were going to die, St. Mary's were determined to do it with their boots on and, thanks mainly to the superb striking of Paul Kinsella from placed balls, they remained very much in contention, trailing by four with ten minutes remaining.
Gusserane posed a far greater scoring threat from play though, with Sam Wall, Seán Ryan and Mark O'Neill all contributing sweet points as they kept the scoreboard ticking over.
That said, St. Mary's twice came close to plundering a priceless goal, with Naomhan Rossiter finding Emmet Byrne in the 46th minute, but his strike off the ground was blocked by goalkeeper Micheál Ryan.
Byrne again had a sight of goal moments later but he couldn't force the ball over the line after Paul Kinsella's shot had been saved.
Gusserane's extra firepower really began to tell in the last ten minutes as they put the game to bed in a devastating spell.
Sam Wall knocked over two scores, either side of a Graeme Cullen point when a goal chance was on, and they did rattle the net in the 56th minute, with Mark O'Neill finishing confidently past Niall Walsh.
O'Neill was really motoring now and he added another two stylish points, while St. Mary's misery was compounded when David Murphy was shown a red card late on.
Gusserane: Micheál Ryan; Jack O'Connor, Kenneth Cahill (capt.), Robert Browne; Paul Wall, Shane Cullen, Gavin Sheehan; Graeme Cullen (0-2), Adrian Redmond (0-2); Gary O'Grady, Sam Wall (0-5, 1 free), Seán Ryan (0-3); Mark O'Neill (1-4), Páraic Conway (0-1), Mark Rossiter (1-0). Subs. - Fintan Ryan for O'Grady, Cathal Somers for Conway, John Roche for G. Cullen, Shane Doyle for Browne.
St. Mary's (Rosslare): Niall Walsh; Gearóid Byrne, Conor Cafferkey, Stephen Cogley; Ned Power, David Murphy, Larry Morrissey; Naomhan Rossiter (0-1), Tiarnan Rossiter (0-2); Robert Butler (capt.), Paul Kinsella (0-7, 5 frees, 2 '65s), Andrew Murphy; Ultan Quirke (0-1), Emmet Byrne, Philip Lambert (0-1). Subs. - Barry Quirke for Lambert, Richard Bent for Morrissey, inj.
Referee: Dan Crosby (Kilmore).