Mahon rescues point for Starlights
There was nothing shoddy about the composure nor the finishing of Ryan Mahon in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday as he landed a pressure free five minutes into added time to complete an impressive Starlights comeback and earn a share of the spoils with strong-starting Gusserane in this entertaining Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship Group B tie.
Starlights 0-14 Gusserane 1-11
Mahon's eighth converted free off the ground was the fifth unanswered point for the Enniscorthy side who earned the draw the hard way after Mark Rossiter had pushed Gusserane into a 1-11 to 0-9 lead from a placed ball in the 47th minute.
Both sides went into this game boosted by good wins over the previous weekend, and the football was enjoyable from the off despite a high first-half free count of 27 (16 to Starlights).
Gusserane had first use of the breeze into the town goal and Mark Rossiter withdrew out the field, leaving Jamie Cooney and Seán Ryan to avail of the space inside.
The quality of their long-range passing was of a high standard, with captain Ken Cahill leading the way, and this contributed to a 1-7 to 0-5 interval lead without kicking any wides. Indeed, their sole miss didn't arrive until the 58th minute from Ryan.
The suspended Adrian Flynn was a considerable loss, but the presence of that wily campaigner Philip Wallace at midfield ensured that Liam Ryan didn't dominate like he had for Starlights against Horeswood seven days earlier.
The sides were level twice in the first nine minutes, with Jamie Cooney and Mark Rossiter scoring for Gusserane in between efforts from Ryan Mahon (free) and Jason Russell at the Clonard end.
Mahon restored the Starlights lead before a Mark Rossiter handpass found Seán Ryan in space, and he delayed until the ideal time before picking out the inrushing Ken Cahill who crashed a low shot to the net (1-2 to 0-3).
Gusserane grew in stature after that well-worked goal, with Starlights restricted to two more Mahon frees before the break while Shane Cullen (two frees), Seán Ryan (two) and Jamie Cooney (free) left last year's runners-up with that five-point interval lead.
Gusserane would have been happy with their lot by the start of the last quarter as they had matched Starlights score for score, with the sides sharing eight points.
However, the young Bellefield side were full of running and their heads never dropped.
They still had a lot of work to do after Mark Rossiter made it 1-11 to 0-9, but points from Tommy Foley, Ricky Fox (free) and a trio of Ryan Mahon placed balls saved the day.
The equaliser arrived in the fifth added minute and just over 30 seconds before the finish, with the number 13 converting coolly from 40 metres after a foul on Fox.
With both sides now on five points, they will be happy with their evening's work and well on course for the quarter-finals.
Starlights: Pa Doyle; Mel Doyle, Tom Wall, Rory O'Connor; Dillon Redmond, Mikey Dempsey, Anthony Roche; Liam Ryan (0-1), Jack Kelly; Ricky Fox (0-1 free), Jason Russell (capt., 0-1), Anthony Russell; Ryan Mahon (0-10, 8 frees), Kevin Foley, Tommy Foley (0-1). Subs. - Alan Tobin for Kelly (38), Kevin Courtney for Dempsey (45), Conor Farrell for J. Russell (49), Lenny Connolly for T. Foley (49), Paul Byrne for K. Foley, temp. (57-60), Byrne for A. Russell, inj. (60).
Gusserane: Davy Kehoe; Shane Doyle, Jack O'Connor, Cathal Somers; Robert Browne, Paul Wall, Adrian Redmond; Philip Wallace, Jack Burford; Shane Cullen (0-3 frees), Ken Cahill (capt., 1-0), Páraic Conway (0-1); Jamie Cooney (0-2, 1 free), Seán Ryan (0-2), Mark Rossiter (0-3, 2 frees). Subs. - Fintan Ryan for Browne (HT), Darragh Doyle for Redmond (HT), Graeme Cullen for Cooney (52), Mark O'Neill for Somers (57), Liam Dillon for Wall, inj. (60+2).
Referee: Barry Redmond (Clonard).