Martin's have too much class
St. Martin's 4-8 Gusserane 1-4
St Martin's continued to justify their pre-tournament favouritism with a largely uneventful victory over hosts Gusserane in the Greenstar Under-21 Premier football championship semi-final on Saturday evening last.
It's tempting to say that the Piercestown side have done it the hard way, making the decider without ever getting to ply their trade at home. However, it's difficult to feel sorry for them when they make it look this easy.
Previous results, including a crushing defeat of Fethard, suggested that the New Ross District side would give the Martin's a good battle.
Unlike the hurling meeting between these sides, there seemed real belief and tangible energy on the hosts sideline that an upset may be in the offing.
However, like so many times before, what St Martin's did on the field drained not on the legs of their opponents on a heavy Gusserane pitch, but also syphoned away the early energy that whipped up along the sideline.
Each score provided its own mini-dagger. While there was nothing special about Jake Firman's third minute free, it was the harbinger of what the sizable crowd could expect of the rest of the opening half.
Barry O'Connor almost grabbed the opening goal in the sixth minute but Micheál Ryan, who made several excellent saves throughout the game, stopped his low shot.
There was no such Christmas miracle five minutes later when Joe Coleman's point attempt dropped short into the grasp of Darren Codd and he calmly fired to the rigging.
Gusserane had more than one foray into the St Martin's defence but they failed to take any of their chances as the visitors moved into the second quarter with a 1-2 to nil lead.
That increased further when Conor Coleman fed Michael Codd into the clear and he clinically chipped Ryan for his sides second goal.
After Coleman and Barry O'Connor made it 2-4 to nil, the former accepted Joe Coleman's assist, jinked outside and in, before calmly firing high to the Gusserane net.
A county semi-final could hardly pass without a little controversy and it came in first half added-time.
St Martin's attempted to take a quick lineball but were correctly hauled back for the kicker being on the field.
Yet, while they were arguing that point they seemed to miss the fact that Gusserane finagled a lineball of their own, rather than the throw-in it should have been, they raced down the field in less than ten seconds and netted through Adrian Redmond.
Barry O'Connor still had time to end the half with his second free which gave St Martin's a comfortable 3-5 to 1-0 lead. It grew further in the first ten minutes of the second half after Darren Codd tapped over a pair of minors.
A Mark Rossiter free gave his side a moment's respite but, arguably, St Martin's were more dominant as legs started to get weary. They were able to control the game while Gusserane funneled men back and looked to limit the damage.
Harry O'Connor, seemed to take it in turns with his defensive teammates to get forward.
He cut in on the right and flashed a cracking shot past Ryan for St Martin's fourth major in the 56th minute.
A final Barry O'Connor free ended his sides salvo a minute later and at that stage they lead 4-8 to 1-1.
To their credit Gusserane battled on to the final whistle and added scores through Rossiter, Jack Culleton and Kevin O'Donohoe.
It mattered little to the final outcome as St Martin's comfortably advanced to a Greenstar Premier Under-21 championship final meeting with Glynn-Barntown this coming Friday at 8pm at St Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy, while the Under-21 'B' football final takes place there on Saturday at 2pm.
GUSSERANE: Micheál Ryan; Eoghan Foran (capt.), Mark O'Neill, Eoin Ryan; Donal Kiely, Gavin Sheehan, Jack Burford; John Roche, Tommy Ryan; Jack Culleton (0-1), Mark Rossiter (0-2 frees), Adrian Redmond (1-0); Kevin O'Donohoe (0-1), Sean O'Connor, Sam Wall. Subs. - Oisin Foran for Wall, inj (26), Stephen Whelan for Kiely, black card (50), Eoin Codd for E. Ryan (58), Donal Kinsella for T. Ryan (58).
ST MARTIN'S: Sam Audsley; Eoin O'Leary, Philip Dempsey, Harry O'Connor (1-0); Conor Firman (capt.), Aaron Maddock, Ben Maddock; Joe O'Connor, Peter Barry; Jake Firman (0-2, 1 free, 1 '45), Joe Coleman, Michael Codd (1-0); Darren Codd (1-2), Barry O'Connor (0-3 frees), Conor Coleman (1-1). Subs. - Nicky Greene for Audsley (14), S. Audsley for Dempsey, temp (15-18), Mikey Coleman for Barry (42), Jack Devereux for C. Coleman, inj (49), Diarmuid Barry for J. Firman (54), S. Audsley for C. Firman (57).
REFEREE: Brendan Holohan (Rathnure)