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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Gusserane run riot after break

Sars stunned by three goals

Mark Rossiter tries to shake off Dylan Furlong and John Bridges
Mark Rossiter tries to shake off Dylan Furlong and John Bridges
Fiach O Crualaoich (Sarsfields) finds his route to safety blocked by Gusserane’s Seán O’Connor
Gusserane full-back Mark O’Neill considers his options during Saturday’s semi-final in Grants town
Shane Hall of Sarsfields on the attack as Ciarán Conway (Gusserane) prepares to close him down

Alan Aherne

It was difficult to gauge the eventual outcome at half-time in Grantstown on Saturday when quick-starting Gusserane found themselves level with Sarsfields in the Greenstar Under-21 football Roinn 1 championship semi-final.

Gusserane 4-11 Sarsfields 1-8

However, just seven minutes into the second period it was game, set and match for the O'Rahilly's as they stamped their authority on proceedings in devastating fashion, hitting 3-3 without reply after cutting the opposing defence to ribbons.

A final joust with Réalt na Mara was signed, sealed and delivered at that stage, and it had been achieved with a display of scintillating football as inside forwards Sam Wall and Seán O'Connor availed of the extra space around them to wreak havoc.

Team captain Seán Ryan had started at right half-forward after being kept reasonably quiet on the edge of the square in the District final one week earlier.

And although he didn't get on the scoresheet for the second game running, he was very influential in creating chances for his colleagues while Mark Rossiter's power, pace and accuracy also left a stunned Sarsfields side devoid of answers.

Gusserane had started the game like an express train too, and that was probably to be expected given that this was their third successive Saturday to line out whereas their rivals had been waiting a while to learn their opponents after capturing the Wexford District crown.

Thus, it came as no major surprise to see the eventual winners pick off early points from John Roche and Sam Wall on either side of a shot on goal from Seán Ryan which was well blocked by Adam Carroll.

However, Gusserane went for the jugular in the fourth minute, latching on to a slack kick-out and surging forward before Mark Rossiter placed Wall for a coolly-finished goal.

It was the worst possible start for the town team, but a pointed free from John Bridges helped them to settle down and they went on to give as good as they got for the remainder of the half.

Indeed, they managed to draw level at 0-8 to 1-5, outscoring their rivals by 0-7 to 0-3 from the eleventh minute up to the break.

The slightest of touches diverted a Danny Walsh shot out for a fruitless '45 after good work by wing-back Shane Hall, but the lively Shane Wilde posted two points from play for the Sars with Mark Rossiter converting a free in between at the other end.

A crossfield John Bridges pass picked out Hall for a neat point to narrow the gap to two by the end of the first quarter.

Rossiter knocked over another free before Danny Walsh cancelled that score out, but Sarsfields had a lucky escape in the 23rd minute. Seán Ryan and Rossiter combined to put Sam Wall through, but his attempt for a second goal was bravely blocked by Conor Halligan.

A fine solo point from Rossiter made it 1-5 to 0-5 in favour of the O'Rahilly's, but Sarsfields finished the half on a positive note with three points on the trot.

John Bridges split the posts from two frees on either side of a fisted effort from Shane Wilde after an Eoin Roche cross from the right bounced invitingly around the square.

It looked to all intents and purposes like the second-half would remain close, but nothing could have been further from the truth as it transpired.

Gusserane were simply superb in their movement up front at the beginning of the third quarter, and they put the outcome to bed in jig time.

Sam Wall, who had played an energy-sapping 80 minutes with Good Counsel 24 hours earlier, availed of a Ciarán Conway pass to restore their lead after 55 seconds, and it simply got better and better for the Ross District side who fielded without Adrian Redmond and Gavin Sheehan.

Wing-back Chris Cullen started the move for their second goal, playing the ball down the right flank to Seán O'Connor who in turn found Mark Rossiter, and the young man who shot a glorious late point in the county Senior final rattled the net to establish a four-point gap (2-6 to 0-8).

Half-time substitute Oisín Foran then popped a pass to Martin Fitzharris who possibly thought about tapping over a point before moving at pace towards goal and beating Matthew Murphy at his near post with an unstoppable shot.

Sarsfields couldn't get the ball beyond midfield as Mark Rossiter and Ciarán Conway piled on the misery with points before Fitzharris set up Sam Wall for the fourth goal in the 37th minute, a move that started with a vital fingertip interception by corner-back Eoin Foran.

The next 17 minutes failed to yield a score for either team, but the issue had been well and truly decided so it didn't matter.

Gusserane created a couple of goal chances in that spell, with Matthew Murphy saving from Oisín Foran while Seán O'Connor hooked another effort wide after a quick Sam Wall free.

Micheál Ryan denied Pádraig Clancy in the 50th minute before the scoring drought ended when O'Connor was rewarded for an afternoon of hard work with a point.

The one and only Sarsfields score after the break arrived in the 56th minute when a hit-and-hope kick into the clouds by Ciarán Kirwan was caught and dispatched to the net by Conor Halligan who had moved forward to bolster an ailing attack.

Gusserane underlined their supremacy before the finish though as the unselfish Seán O'Connor picked out Mark Rossiter for a booming point before also supplying the pass which wing-back Donal Kiely scored from to leave a gap of twelve at the finish.

Gusserane: Micheál Ryan; Eoin Foran, Mark O'Neill, Donal Kinsella; Chris Cullen, Jack Burford, Donal Kiely (0-1); Ciarán Conway (0-1), John Roche (0-1); Seán Ryan (capt.), Mark Rossiter (1-5, 0-2 frees), Jack Culleton; Sam Wall (2-2), Seán O'Connor (0-1), Martin Fitzharris (1-0). Subs. - Jason Sutton for Kinsella (HT), Oisín Foran for Culleton (HT), Culleton for Wall (55).

Sarsfields: Matthew Murphy; Jamie McDonnell, Rian Carty, Conor Halligan (1-0); Shane Hall (0-1), Fiach O Crualaoich, Adam Carroll; Ciarán Kirwan, Dylan Furlong; John Bridges (0-3 frees), Eoin Roche, John Gannon (capt.); Pádraig Clancy, Danny Walsh (0-1), Shane Wilde (0-3). Subs. - Shane McGrath for Gannon (41), Liam Barry for Furlong, inj. (41), Liam Kehoe for Carty (43), Stephen Cummins for Walsh (50), Andrew Harrington for Roche (55).

Referee: Fintan O'Reilly (Kilmore).

Wexford People