Gusserane strike back with resounding victory
Gusserane 1-14 Fethard 0-4
Gusserane served notice that they won't surrender their Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship crown without one hell of a fight in this clinical Group B dismissal of neighbours Fethard in O'Kennedy Park, New Ross, on Saturday.
The holders had been backed into a corner after successive losses to St. James' and Taghmon-Camross, but this first win since the opening day of the campaign on April 23 significantly leaves qualification back in their own hands.
Still, their last assignment in the round-robin will be as hard as it gets, as they face table-toppers St. Martin's knowing that they could still miss out if they lose and Fethard and St. James' both win.
Anything is possible in this fascinating group, although the St. Mogue's men will need a massive improvement to get the victory they need versus Horeswood.
It was hard to believe that this was the same team which drew with, and ought to have beaten, St. Martin's at the same venue a fortnight earlier, but they simply didn't show up on this occasion.
To be fair, that was due in large measure to the quality of the display from a Gusserane side forced to field without long-term injury victim Adrian Flynn and midfielder John Roche (knee).
The placing of regular wing-forward Páraic Conway at wing-back was particularly effective as he bombed forward to kick a brace of points, while Seán Ryan was buzzing up front and Shane Cullen read the play very well from a deep-lying role.
The sides were level twice in the first ten minutes, but Gusserane took over completely thereafter and had a lot of the hard work done by the break when they led by 1-7 to 0-2.
That goal came from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time, and it was notable that it was the first score not to arrive from play in a half featuring a mere nine frees, with the action controlled efficiently by referee Kevin Carty.
Gusserane kicked three of the first four wides before Adrian Redmond got them off the mark in the seventh minute, only for Mikie Dwyer to respond and Daire Barden to then push Fethard ahead after latching on to the kick-out.
All seemed in readiness for a typically tight Ross District derby, but little did we realise that the seasiders had already compiled half of their final tally, and they wouldn't score again before the break.
Seán Ryan equalised with the first of three fine points before a patient passing move ended with Mark Rossiter restoring the Gusserane lead at the start of the second quarter.
Their dominance grew considerably thereafter, with scores added by Sam Wall (two), Páraic Conway and Paul Wall before the goal arrived with the second-last kick of the half deep in added time.
A Conway cross from the right was caught by Seán Ryan who was fouled by Seán Donohoe, the second of three Fethard men given the task of trying to handle him, and Kenneth Cahill's finish was composed and classy to leave Gusserane well clear by 1-7 to 0-2.
What little chance Fethard had disappeared altogether in the 34th minute when the off-colour John Tubritt reacted needlessly after being fouled and departed on a second yellow card.
And although Mikie Dwyer pointed a free to end a 26-minute barren period, he also missed two scoreable ones while Kevin Rowe did the same to sum up their team's woes.
Gusserane had widened the gap to 1-11 to 0-3 by the three-quarters stage, with Seán Ryan, Kenneth Cahill and Ryan again adding points.
Three more came from Mark Rossiter (two frees) and Cahill before Mark Wallace kicked a late score for Fethard whose first defeat after a win and two draws leaves them in dire need of another victory to stay alive.
Gusserane: Micheál Ryan; Gavin Sheehan, Mark O'Neill, Liam Dillon; Jack Burford, Graeme Cullen (capt.), Páraic Conway (0-2); Mark Rossiter (0-3, 2 frees), Cillian Kehoe; Adrian Redmond (0-1), Kenneth Cahill (1-2, 1-0 pen.), Sam Wall (0-2); Paul Wall (0-1), Seán Ryan (0-3), Shane Cullen. Sub. - Jack O'Connor for Burford, inj. (46).
Fethard: Paul Foley; Seán Donohoe, Daniel Mullan, Chris Molloy; Daire Barden (0-1), Graham O'Grady (joint capt.), Joe Sutton; Jesse Foley, Kevin Rowe (joint capt.); Rúairí Tubrid, John Tubritt, Richie Waters; Garrett Foley, Mikie Dwyer (0-2, 1 free), Ciarán Dwyer. Subs. - Brian O'Donohoe for Sutton (35), Mark Wallace (0-1) for Tubrid (39), Martin Power for Donohoe (48), Tubrid for C. Dwyer, inj. (51), Donohoe for G. Foley (60+1).
Referee: Kevin Carty (Sarsfields).