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Monday 18 December 2017

Fethard squander good chance to beat Martin's

St. Martin's 1-8 Fethard 0-11

Alan Aherne

Fethard’s Mikie Dwyer under pressure from the O’Connor brothers, Jack and Harry
Fethard’s Mikie Dwyer under pressure from the O’Connor brothers, Jack and Harry

There was frustration for Fethard and relief for St. Martin's in O'Kennedy Park, New Ross, on Saturday after the seasiders missed a host of late opportunities to claim an unexpected Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship Group B victory in this keenly-fought draw.

The favourites edged clear with a Jake Firman point in the 43rd minute, but they didn't score again until deep into added time when Ciarán Lyng kicked his only score of the evening from a free to ensure a somewhat fortuitous share of the spoils.

In between Fethard had been the dominant force, drawing level though Mikie Dwyer before he earned a free which Kevin Rowe converted for the lead point in the 51st minute (0-11 to 1-7).

And they owned large chunks of possession thereafter, but undid solid outfield work with five wides when their rivals were on the ropes.

Their performance was perhaps best summed up by centre-forward John Tubritt who brought his immediate opponent, Paudie Kelly, on a tour of the field but kicked a staggering seven wides from an overall tally of 16 to go along with his two points.

On a more positive note, Fethard remain unbeaten after one win and two draws, and they gave their lively forward line more scope to test the opposition as they weren't nearly as defensive as normal in this contest.

As for St. Martin's, this was the kind of wake-up call that every team regarded as a front-runner for the county title would love to get at this time of year.

They remain top of a very tight table on five points, but Saturday's showing underlined that they're still a long way from the finished article.

One stand-out performer was Joe Coleman who kicked two booming first-half points as well as taking three marks, and then, after moving to full-forward in the 39th minute, he doubled his scoring tally with a fine display of kicking.

Those four points were particularly important given that it was one of those rare occasions when Ciarán Lyng didn't score from play, amassing three of his side's eight wides.

A lot of credit for that must go to a disciplined Fethard defence and in particular full-back Daniel Mullan.

Lyng's injury-time equaliser, from the second-last kick of the game, was only the second scoreable free they conceded, and that was for a technical offence as Graham O'Grady was penalised for smothering the ball on the ground.

The St. Martin's victory that most people expected seemed a likely outcome by the end of the first quarter when they led by 0-4 to 0-1 after points from Joe Coleman, Daithí Waters, Barry O'Connor and Coleman again bettered Kevin Rowe's third-minute opener for Fethard.

However, the seasiders thundered into the game between the 19th and 25th minutes, scoring five points on the trot courtesy of a John Tubritt brace, Jesse Foley, Richie Waters and Mikie Dwyer (free).

That momentum was sucked out of Fethard though when St. Martin's responded with a goal with the second-last kick of the opening half.

Barry O'Connor opened up the defence with a strong, jinking run before parting with a handpass to first cousin Patrick who kicked low and left-footed to the net at the dressing-room end to establish a 1-4 to 0-6 lead.

The second-half was extremely tight, with the teams level five times and never more than one point between them.

Mikie Dwyer levelled before Daire Barden put Fethard ahead in the 33rd minute, while there was a scare for St. Martin's when netminder Tomás Hayes slipped as he prepared to deal with a weakly-struck John Tubritt shot but managed to recover.

Joe Coleman's 41st-minute leveller drew a swift response from Garrett Foley before Coleman hit the target again, with Jake Firman edging St. Martin's clear from a Darren Codd pass near the end of the third quarter.

It was nearly all Fethard though from that point onwards, and really they should have created a cushion for themselves given the amount of chances created before Lyng's last-gasp equaliser.

St. Martin's: Tomás Hayes; Mikey Coleman, Jack O'Connor, Aaron Maddock; Michael Codd, Paudie Kelly, Darren Codd; Daithí Waters (0-1), Jamie Carty (capt.); Joe Coleman (0-4), Jake Firman (0-1), Patrick O'Connor (1-0); Ciarán Lyng (0-1 free), Ryan Murphy, Barry O'Connor (0-1). Subs. - Harry O'Connor for Murphy (39), Ben Maddock for P. O'Connor (49), Peter Barry for D. Codd (55).

Fethard: Paul Foley; Martin Power, Daniel Mullan, Seán Donohoe; Chris Molloy, Graham O'Grady (joint capt.), Joe Sutton; Jesse Foley (0-1), Kevin Rowe (joint capt., 0-2, 1 free); Daire Barden (0-1), John Tubritt (0-2), Richie Waters (0-1); Mikie Dwyer (0-3, 1 free), Garrett Foley (0-1), Ciarán Dwyer. Subs. - Rúairí Tubrid for Waters (38), Mark Wallace for Power (44), Waters for C. Dwyer (60), Dwyer for Foley, inj. (60+2).

Referee: Anthony Tobin (Geraldine O'Hanrahans).

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