Holders send out a warning
GAA Tom Doyle Supplies Senior Football Championship Group B: Starlights 4-11 Gusserane 2-9
Starlights began the defence of their crown in ominous form when an eye-catching first-half performance did untold damage to Gusserane in Saturday's Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship Group B opener at the Ferns Centre of Excellence.
Any suggestion of potential ring-rustiness was quickly dispelled by the champions when they cut open their predecessors' porous defence with two goals inside the first six minutes.
Liam Ryan had opened the scoring with a point from a typically swashbuckling run after two minutes before his Wexford colleague, Kevin Foley, burst forward to feed Alan Tobin, and he rolled to the net for a brilliant goal.
There was a degree of fortune to their second green flag on six minutes when Dillon Redmond's delivery deflected off an unfortunate Gusserane defender, with veteran Eamonn Furlong on hand to poke home the breaking ball.
Ryan broke through again to drive over a point from another goal chance, while Darragh Pepper produced an outrageous score from an acute angle as the confident Bellefield men didn't take long to settle back into championship pace.
The procession continued on 17 minutes as Gusserane's Micheál Ryan fumbled the ball into the path of Furlong to fist home from close range, and by the time Tobin prodded home their fourth goal in first-half injury-time, the gap had swelled to a lop-sided 4-6 to 0-5.
Frees were Gusserane's sole sustenance on the scoreboard in that first-half, with Cillian Kehoe opening their account from play with a mid-range effort on 42 minutes.
While the 2016 champions eventually found some semblance of their true form with a bright fourth quarter, in truth it masked what was a completely disjointed display from the New Ross District side.
Respectability was restored to the final scoreline thanks to a gung-ho approach from the losers, with the otherwise subdued Seán Ryan catching Kenneth Cahill's delivery and burying to the net on 52 minutes, and the ever-reliable Shane Cullen hammering home four minutes later to cut the deficit to 4-10 to 2-8.
The latter also lofted over a point one minute from time, but it was an exercise in damage limitation long before then as the champions were already sitting pretty thanks to their explosive first-half, with the outstanding Ryan punching over his fifth point to complete an impressive display.
Starlights: Pa Doyle; Rory O'Connor, Kevin Foley, Mel Doyle; Jack Kelly, Ricky Fox, James Peare; Liam Ryan (0-5), Nick Doyle (0-1); Alan Tobin (2-3, 0-3 frees), Richie Farrell, Dillon Redmond; Darragh Pepper (0-1), Eamonn Furlong (2-0), Ryan Mahon. Subs. - James Carty for Furlong (40), Aaron Dobbs (0-1) for Farrell (53), Anthony Roche for Fox (60+1).
Gusserane: Micheál Ryan; Jack O'Connor, Liam Dillon, Gavin Sheehan; Jack Burford (0-1 free), Mark O'Neill, Adrian Redmond; John Roche, Cillian Kehoe (0-1); Kenneth Cahill, Páraic Conway, Mark Rossiter (0-5, 4 frees); Seán Ryan (1-0), Shane Cullen (1-1), Sam Wall. Subs. - Tommy Ryan for Redmond, inj. (9), Eoin Ryan for O'Connor, Kevin O'Donohoe (0-1) for Wall (48).
Referee: Barry Redmond (Clonard).