Fethard reach final
Fethard 1-19 Erin's Isle (Dublin) 3-7
Ten minutes into the second-half, Fethard had popped over seven points without reply in a remarkable opening surge which laid the foundations for an emphatic six-point victory over Dublin outfit Erin's Isle in this AIB Leinster Club Junior hurling championship semi-final in O'Toole Park, Crumlin, on Saturday.
After a slow opening quarter, Fethard brought real fight to their play. Producing a traditional direct brand of hurling, they soon rattled the Finglas side which finished the game with 13 men, having had a player straight red-carded in each half.
Clearly stung by that lack-lustre opening 15 minutes, Fethard eventually began to put together some fine hurling, with their half-back line taking a firm grip on proceedings.
By the interval they had stormed back to go in with a two-point lead, turning over with the slight breeze to their advantage, and this they managed to utilise to the fullest.
Their body language during that second quarter suggested they were prepared for the physical battle which the home side brought to the game, while at the same time playing all the quality hurling which in turn resulted in some excellent scores.
When one expected Erin's Isle to rally on the resumption, it was Fethard who stormed all over their opponents to the dismay of home supporters, as they picked off a string of excellent points, both from play and frees, to put the Dubs to the sword.
While they did concede two goals late on, the result by that stage was a foregone conclusion, as the eventual winners had already eked out a commanding lead, making the scores of real consolation value to the Dublin champions.
After Mikie Dwyer had opened the scoring with a neat left-handed point despite being under considerable pressure, Erin's Isle went on to assume control of the opening quarter.
Midfielder Conor Keaney had the sides quickly level with a pointed free, and he followed with two further pointed frees and a pointed '65. Keith Stone added a further minor from play to leave the Dublin side leading by 0-5 to 0-1 at the end of the opening quarter.
To their credit Fethard refused to panic, and the accuracy of Mark Wallace with a pointed free followed by an excellent effort from play off the wing hauled them back into contention, although they still trailed by 0-7 to 0-3 after 20 minutes.
Then Wallace grasped the initiative, sending over two long-range pointed frees, which were followed by further points from Eddie Power and Ciarán Dwyer.
And just on the break, Wallace lofted over a 70-metre free into the breeze, leaving his side with a 0-9 to 0-7 interval lead. Erin's Isle were down to 14 players by that stage, with midfielder Gavin Farrell red-carded after 28 minutes for a wild pull.
Now having clearly established themselves, Fethard stormed all over their opponents on the resumption. After Wallace pointed a free inside two minutes of the re-start, they followed with a succession of points through John Tubritt, with a long effort from midfield, Ciarán Dwyer, with two excellent efforts off the wing, and Mikie Dwyer with a lovely individual point from out on the sideline.
He followed with almost a similar effort seconds later, to stretch his side into a 0-16 to 0-7 lead after 40 minutes.
A couple of Erin's Isle attacks were capably dealt with by Rúairí Tubrid and Kevin Rowe, before they responded with three further points through Ciarán Dwyer (two) and Mikie Dwyer, while the decisive score arrived at the end of the third quarter.
A high John Tubritt delivery broke on the edge of the square, leaving Mikie Dwyer to dispatch a low ground shot to the net and giving his side a 1-18 to 0-7 lead, a total transformation achieved through some quality hurling and scoring.
After Frank Carroll had pulled back a 47th-minute goal, substitute Mikey Donohoe was straight red-carded one minute later for a high pull.
And while Erin's Isle finished with two late goals through Keith Stone and substitute Mick O'Donovan, it was Fethard who finished out the game by adding a further point through a fine long-range effort from Mark Wallace.
Fethard: Seán Foley; Martin Power, Rúairí Tubrid, Daniel Mullan; Joe Sutton, Kevin Rowe, Brian O'Donohoe; Garrett Foley, John Tubritt (0-1); Eddie Power (0-1), Mark Wallace (0-9, 7 frees, 1 '65), Daire Barden; Ciarán Dwyer (0-5), Graham O'Grady, Mikie Dwyer (1-3). Subs. - Jimmy Sutton for Tubritt, Christopher Molloy for C. Dwyer, Ricky Rowe for Foley.
Erin's Isle: Derek McCabe; Paul Houlihan, Garrett Cronin, Eoin Callaghan; Edward King, Lorcan Finnegan, Dale Murray; Conor Keaney (0-5 frees), Gavin Farrell; Darren Kelly, Keith Stone (1-1), Daniel Farrell; Darren Harding, Fran Carroll (1-0), Graham Whelan (0-1). Subs. - Conor Donohoe for Houlihan, Mikey Donohoe for D. Farrell, Mick Donovan (1-0) for Harding, Seán Darcy for Stone.
Referee: Shane Guinan (Offaly).