Fogey back as Anne's edge it
St. Anne's 0-10 Sarsfields 0-8
The return to the playing fields of David Fogarty was the most uplifting sight of the weekend on the club G.A.A. scene, with the wily campaigner making a key contribution late on as St. Anne's edged past Sarsfields in a dour Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship Group A contest in rain-lashed Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday.
The former inter-county stalwart's recent battle with illness was foremost in everyone's minds when his appearance with eight minutes left was greeted with a hearty round of applause.
And, true to form, Fogarty stamped his authority on the game immediately, kicking a vital point and guiding his less experienced colleagues through the tense closing stages with plenty of support from fellow disdtinguished servant Redmond Barry.
Barry had just set up Mark Furlong for a point to make it 8-6 when Fogarty entered the fray, but Lee Smith's third converted free off the ground with his left peg left the minimum between the sides entering the last five minutes.
Fogarty's crucial score followed from a crossfield Barry pass, only for hard-working Sars substitute Kevin Gore to make it a one-point game once more.
And the losers were left to rue the fact that Smith was no longer part of the action when Michael Hanrahan was fouled in an ideal position for a left-footer to slot over in the 59th minute.
Instead the kick was dropped short, and a wide followed from the town side, with Mayo native Seán Kelly then shooting the insurance point before no doubt rushing off to watch his home county going toe-to-toe with Kerry in that absorbing Croke Park clash.
Eoin Roche did have a couple of late chances for the Sars, driving a quickly-taken free across goal and wide before another effort was blocked, and the outcome means they will be in the relegation final regardless of the outcome of their last group game versus Starlights.
St. Anne's are one of three clubs locked on four points, with two more above them on six, giving all five everything to play for early next month.
Even allowing for the poor weather, this was a low-standard affair, with just two points scored in the first quarter as Redmond Barry's fifth-minute effort was cancelled out by Dylan Furlong.
Three points in three minutes from Barry (free), Liam Rochford and Barry (play) gave St. Anne's some daylight, with Lee Smith pulling one back from a placed ball before Barry swung a low shot across the face of goal in the 25th minute.
Rochford and Furlong went on to swap points to leave the Rathangan crew 5-3 clear at the break, and the leaders added two more inside five minutes on the re-start from Seán Kelly (free) and the accurate Rochford.
However, wind-aided Sarsfields improved considerably as the half wore on, with John Bridges, Kevin Gore and Lee Smith (free) making it a one-point game after 42 minutes.
The same margin divided them on two further occasions, but the Anne's used their considerable know-how to just about get over the line first.
Sarsfields now face a serious battle to preserve the Senior status they have held since 1980, and they will need chief scorer from play Lee Chin back for that do-or-die test.
St. Anne's: Graham Holmes; Kevin White, Tomás Cullen (capt.), Páraic O'Keeffe; Finn O'Driscoll, Diarmuid O'Keeffe, Kenny Cloney; Ben Moore, Jonathan Fogarty; Michael O'Brien, Mark Furlong (0-1), Kevin Hannigan; Liam Rochford (0-3), Seán Kelly (0-2, 1 free), Redmond Barry (0-3, 1 free). Subs. - Philip Rawson for O'Brien, inj. (29), Tony McDonnell for Moore (46), Seán Gaul for Fogarty (49), David Fogarty (0-1) for Furlong (52), Andy Kennedy for Hannigan (54).
Sarsfields: Philip Cullen; Con O Donnagáin, Michael Hanrahan (capt.), Cillian Lawlor; Conor Halligan, Cathal Kirwan, Fiach O Crualaoich; Ciarán Byrne, Eoin Roche; David Gouldson, Dylan Furlong (0-2), John Bridges (0-1); Lee Smith (0-3 frees), David Mooney, Fran Cleary. Subs. - Shane Hall for O Donnagáin, inj. (11), Kevin Gore (0-2) for Mooney (HT), Mooney for Smith (54).
Referee: James Flood (St. Mary's, Maudlintown).