Wednesday 24 January 2018

Martin's run riot

Anne's offer very weak resistance

Alan Aherne

The rampant Rory O'Connor gets to the ball ahead of St. Anne's defender Seán Gaul
The rampant Rory O'Connor gets to the ball ahead of St. Anne's defender Seán Gaul

The transformation was quite incredible in Innovate Wexford Park on Friday as a team which scored a paltry 2-5 on the previous Sunday strode to a runaway 28-point win with an exhibition of finishing in this one-sided Pettitt's Senior hurling championship Group A encounter.

St.Martin's 7-24 St.Anne's 1-14

St. Martin's were simply unstoppable as they set about making amends for that first round loss to Shelmaliers, and the points were effectively in the bag by the 15-minute mark when they led a struggling St. Anne's side by 3-4 to 0-1.

These near neighbours have produced some stirring battles over the years, but it was a different tale this time around as the men in maroon totally dictated a one-sided contest.

All bar three points of their mammoth 7-24 tally came from open play, with the outstanding Rory O'Connor converting a free in the 25th minute while his first cousin, Joe, split the posts from two sweet second-half line balls.

By the break all six forwards plus one midfielder had scored at least once from play. They led by 5-14 to 0-5 at that stage after striking a mere three wides, and the other centrefield man, Jack O'Connor, had joined that list of marksmen just 16 seconds into the new period.

The marvellous stickwork of county Minor Rory O'Connor was the most memorable feature of this complete rout. He used his hurl like a wand to bring the ball under control and posed all sorts of problems from right corner-forward for Seán Gaul and then Páraic O'Keeffe, scoring 3-3 from play before his sensible withdrawal near the end of the third quarter with a view towards next Saturday's Leinster semi-final against Offaly.

His first goal arrived in the tenth minute after a long line ball by his brother, Jack, and he turned provider for the second, with his handpass picking out Joe Coleman who crashed a rocket to the net off the underside of the crossbar.

That made it 2-4 to 0-1 after 13 minutes, and Rory O'Connor's second major shortly afterwards put paid to any possibility of a decent contest unfolding.

This time he won a delivery from his cousin, Joe, in a one-on-one tussle with Seán Gaul and, despite losing his stick in the process, he calmly kicked the sliothar to Paddy Miskella's net.

St. Anne's were all at sea and beaten to the ball throughout the field. St. Martin's in contrast were in no mood to relent, and their fourth goal in the 18th minute was a real touch of class.

Rory O'Connor provided the assist again, getting possession in the right corner and firing in a head-high cross for the rapidly-advancing Barry Lambert to meet with a clinical first touch at full speed.

It was 4-5 to 0-2 at that stage, and it didn't get any better for St. Anne's.

They trailed by 5-14 to 0-5 by the interval, with a Seán Gaul fumble gifting Stephen Murphy the fifth goal in added time.

Rory O'Connor's last act before his withdrawal was to complete his hat-trick in the 41st minute, taking on Páraic O'Keeffe and ghosting past him before firing low to the net (6-18 to 0-7).

St. Anne's free-taker Liam Rochford kept their side of the scoreboard ticking over, but it made no difference.

They did manage a consolation goal though in the 50th minute when county colleagues Diarmuid O'Keeffe and Liam Og McGovern combined, with the latter's shot parried by Luke White but creeping over the line (6-21 to 1-11).

As if to sum up the evening, St. Martin's rattled the net in response 55 seconds later, and it was a screamer as Daithí Waters thundered towards goal before unleashing a powerful drive to the far corner.

One bizarre aspect of the game was the free count, with 20 awarded to St. Anne's and a mere four to the winners (it was 11-0 in the second-half).

However, this wasn't due to excellent discipline on the part of the Rathangan side; for the most part they simply couldn't get close enough to their opponents to challenge for the ball.

Still, if the St. Martin's mentors were wondering how they can improve on such a fine display, it's a clear area to target.

Conceding so many frees while under no pressure, and also picking up three second-half yellow cards in the process, suggests a deficiency in one key area.

St. Martin's: Luke White; Mark Maloney, Willie Devereux, Conor Firman; Patrick O'Connor, Aaron Maddock (0-1), Jake Firman; Jack O'Connor (0-2), Joe O'Connor (0-3, 2 line balls); Stephen Murphy (1-0), Daithí Waters (1-2), Joe Coleman (1-4); Rory O'Connor (3-4, 0-1 free), Ciarán Lyng (capt., 0-4), Barry Lambert (1-2). Subs. - Harry O'Connor (0-1) for Lambert (32), Seán Stafford (0-1) for R. O'Connor (43).

St. Anne's: Paddy Miskella; Finn O'Driscoll, Tomás Cullen, Seán Gaul; Kevin Hannigan, Diarmuid O'Keeffe (0-2), Mark Furlong (0-1 free); Páraic O'Keeffe (0-1), Liam Og McGovern (1-0); Liam Rochford (0-8, 6 frees, 1 '65), Seamus Mythen, Redmond Barry (capt., 0-1); Joe O'Connor, David O'Connor, Francis Simpson. Subs. - David Kavanagh (0-1) for D. O'Connor (20), Kevin White for Mythen, temp. (34-37), Michael O'Brien for Simpson (41), White for Barry (43).

Referee: Niall McDonald (Crossabeg-Ballymurn).

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