Super second-half show
A blistering second-half performance from St. Mary's (Maudlintown) drove the Rocks boys past Fethard to the New Ross Standard Under-14 football Division 3 championship title in Taghmon on Tuesday.
St. Mary's (Maudlintown) 3-7 Fethard 2-5
Built in the mould of most St. Mary's under-age teams in the last few years, the victors played with an unquenchable appetite for work. They ran, hassled, harried and battled but still possessed the quality when in possession to kick vital scores.
It feels like it will take a special team to stop a St. Mary's side once they get a sniff of success. Fethard gave it everything to be champions and boast several serious footballers, but there was no way that the Maudlintown lads were going to be denied this title.
They started as they meant to go on, with a couple of early points from Andy Murphy and John Hore. Both scorers would prove to be vital as the game wore on, with powerful running from deep a feature of Hore's approach, in particular.
Shortly after Adam O'Grady opened the Fethard account, St. Mary's netted. Dylan O'Connor weaved through the defence and fed Aaron Roche close to goal. His rocket came down off the crossbar but Cian Connolly was on hand to drill to the net soccer-style.
With four minutes gone Maudlintown led by 1-2 to 0-1 but only added one Hore point in the remainder of the opening half. Part of that was down to saves from Richard Liu in goal but also because Fethard started to dictate play.
A Liam 'Oggie' Doyle pointed free and a classy effort from the outside of Cian Byrne's left boot cut the deficit to two. Doyle scored again, after his initial effort was blocked, and Dylan Whelan pointed from the right of the posts as the New Ross District side pulled level.
After Hore's point, Fethard marched down the other end and took their only lead when Doyle slalomed through the Maudlintown defence and flashed a superb shot across goal to the corner of the net (1-5 to 1-3 at half-time).
St. Mary's made a couple of changes and it had the desired impact. Dylan O'Connor kicked a free after a foul on Adam Myhal.
Hore levelled the scores eleven minutes into the second-half (1-5 each) before Kyle Scallan cut through from Josh Long's feed to drill home a crucial second Mary's goal.
Buoyed by the turn of events, St. Mary's upped the tempo even more. Luke O'Rourke flashed a shot narrowly over the crossbar before Hore intercepted a pass in the Fethard defence, cut in on goal and sent a superb finish past Liu.
Seven points behind, with as many minutes remaining, Fethard hit back immediately when the impressive Cian Byrne soloed through the heart of the Wexford town side's defence and thumped past Daniel Bent in the goal.
Their big chance to get right back into the match came and went when Byrne's brilliant pass picked out Doyle. His shot was crisp but Bent got out to narrow the angle and made a fantastic save with his legs with four minutes remaining.
Myhal put the finishing touches on victory with a point two minutes later and, despite giving it their all, Fethard couldn't find a way back into the game as St. Mary's hung on to secure a memorable success.
St. Mary's: Daniel Bent; Aaron Quigley, Kyle Malone, Ciarán Shortle; Adam O'Connor, Josh Long, Michael O'Dowd; Kyle Scallan (1-0), Luke O'Rourke (capt., 0-1); Conrad Malone, Andy Murphy (0-1), John Hore (1-3); Dylan O'Connor (0-1 free), Cian Connolly (1-0), Aaron Roche. Subs. - Wicktor Jancey for Malone (26), Adam Myhal (0-1) for Connolly (26), Nicky Furlong for Quigley (48), Connolly for Long, inj. (48), also Ben Kehoe, Conor Kehoe, Daniel Tennant, Seán Carty, Cillian Harpur, Aaron O'Connor.
Fethard: Richard Liu; Rory Whelan, Eoin Whelan, Conor McLoughlin; Bill Nunan, Cian Byrne (1-1), James O'Hanlon; Dylan Whelan (0-1), Harry Nunan; Kevin Wallace (capt.), Liam 'Oggie' Doyle (1-2, 0-1 free), Seán Nunan; Adam O'Grady (0-1), Oisín O'Leary, Evan Fitzpatrick. Subs. - Jake Molloy for Fitzpatrick (13), Ciarán Dunne for B. Nunan, temp. (25-end), Cillian Byrne for O'Grady (32), Eoin O'Dowd for S. Nunan (43), Cian Swan for O'Leary (47).
Referee: Mick Lanigan (Shelmaliers).