Handy Andy the Anne’s saviour
St Anne's 3-11 Faythe Harriers 1-17
Andy Kennedy came off the bench as the game moved towards the final quarter and ended up the St. Anne's hero as the Rathangan men booked the final spot in the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship quarter-finals out of Group A at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.
Given the array of talent at their disposal, few would have picked Kennedy, in and out of the side this campaign, as the man to deliver the telling blows.
However, not only did he do it once to get St. Anne's back in it with five minutes to go, he did it again in stoppage time to secure the draw.
There was a slight comfort for both sides coming into the game, as neither were assured of a knockout spot but they were content in the knowledge that they would both be playing Senior hurling next season.
It all sounds simplistic but remember where these sides have come from and the changes they are going through.
St. Anne's were Intermediate last season so a quarter-final spot has to be considered a welcome and respectable feat.
Faythe Harriers are clearly going through a transitional phase and, while they have a lot of talent coming through, it has to be blooded slowly.
They have been balancing that all season, and had some bad luck, plus some better luck too, but they have done well to ensure another season in the top flight.
With a last eight place on the line it was understandable that the first-half was a nervy affair.
St. Anne's had the breeze and never trailed but didn't exactly click into top gear either. Tactically they were careful, didn't overly commit to attack, and it saw them waste a lot of long ball into the Harriers half.
The Wexford town side did a better job with possession and would have been delighted with their position at the interval.
It was 0-4 each after Wayne Mallon pointed but St. Anne's scored five of the next six, with Mark Furlong on target twice and Seamus Mythen notching his second too.
However, Lee Chin brought his tally to four by the break to close his team within two (0-9 to 0-7), and it gave the Harriers plenty of momentum heading into the second-half.
They carried that over with three Chin points and others from Michael Hanrahan and Eoin Roche putting them 12-9 up.
At this stage things started to become heated, with strikes off the ball, and multiple digs with hurls that resulted in several players hitting the deck, but they weren't dealt with.
A referee being appointed to a winner-takes-all clash in which the victor is probably going to face the official's club is wholly unsatisfactory.
An official simply shouldn't be put in that position.
To both sides' credit they eventually settled themselves down, for a while anyway. A Diarmuid O'Keeffe finish to Kennedy's handpass tied the game at 1-10 to 0-13 in the 48th minute, but the Harriers moved back in front with the help of Chin and Conall Clancy.
Down by 0-16 to 1-11, Kennedy emerged from a melee, raced in and fired past James Henebery to change the dynamic again.
With the tempo and stakes up, another flashpoint ended with both David O'Connor and John Bridges getting straight red cards.
There was still drama in the hurling part of the game too. Pádraigh Farrell levelled matters and Clancy looked to have won it when his long-range effort found the corner of the net in the 59th minute.
However, back came those dogged Anne's men and Kennedy pulled home to level the game again in added time.
It was the Harriers who had the half-chances to win it in the nine additional minutes, but a combination of some questionable decisions and missed shots left the sides deadlocked and St. Anne's on their way forward to a last eight spot opposite Naomh Eanna.
St. Anne's: Paul Brennan; Kenny Cloney, Tomás Cullen, Páraic O'Keeffe; Cian McGovern, Aidan Rochford, Seamus Mythen (0-3); Diarmuid O'Keeffe (1-1), Mark Furlong (0-5, 4 frees, 1 '65); Michael Fogarty (capt.), Liam Og McGovern, Jess Codd (0-1); Liam Rochford, Redmond Barry, Jonathan Fogarty (0-1). Subs. - David O'Connor for M. Fogarty (31), Andy Kennedy (2-0) for Codd (42).
Faythe Harriers: James Henebery; Cormac Byrne, Brendan Mulligan, Alex Lynch; Colm Heffernan, Richie Kehoe, Ciarán Kirwan; Jim Berry (0-1), David Mooney; Wayne Mallon (0-1), Lee Chin (capt., 0-9, 5 frees), Michael Hanrahan (0-1); Stephen Kearney, Eoin Roche (0-1), Conall Clancy (1-3). Subs. - John Bridges for Kearney (50), Pádraigh Farrell (0-1) for Mooney (53), Conall O Crualaoich for Roche (60+9).
Referee: Joe Kelly (Naomh Eanna).