Rapps show their mettle
Pettitt's Senior Hurling Championship: Rapparees 3-16 St Martin's 0-11
This was a serious test of Rapparees mentality but they responded magnificently as they put one of the championship favourites St. Martin's to the sword with a commanding display helping them fashion a shock 14-point victory in this Pettitt's Senior hurling championship Round 5 Group B game played at Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday evening last.
It would be wrong to say that Rapparees went into this game with no hope of victory for they had shown in their previous clash with Oulart-The Ballagh that but for defensive lapses they would have much much closer to the reigning champions.
However, on this occasion, they managed to put up the shutters, defended with skill and determination, particularly the outstanding Jack Kelly and Ricky Fox in the half back line, while from midfield into the attack they simply tore the opposing defence to shreds, with Kevin Foley commanding the area, so much so, they fully merited their victory, particularly as it was mostly fashioned into a strong second half wind.
For St. Martin's when they reflect on this game they will be the first to admit they did not play awfully well.
Indeed they were fairly abject. Perhaps this is the wake-up call they needed, but it will be interesting to see what the carryover from this game will be, particularly they also have big football commitments.
Maybe it was the tag of being serious title contenders that affected their approach, but they will be seriously concerned at the end result, particularly as many flaws were shown when a team had a serious whack at them.
Whatever it was it will come in for some serious thinking when they refocus with the quarter-final in mind particularly the manner in which their key players were closed out of the game.
This was a fine game of hurling helped by the excellent refereeing of the man in charge, Dan Crosby.
Rapparees did not spare any effort as they set about laying down a marker through the opening quarter when wind assisted particularly as so much depended on a result, for a defeat could have seen them in a relegation battle, while victory, with other results going their way propelling them into the quarter-finals.
This was in stark contrast to St. Martin's who were already in the quarter-final frame, but would have liked to maintain a one hundred per cent record going into the knock-out stages.
Rapparees exorcised some of the demons remaining from the Oulart-The Ballagh defeat, for it was clear from the opening exchanges they were determined to achieve a positive result from this game. With Ricky Fox commanding at centre-back, having missed the previous outing, and Kevin Foley commanding in midfield, the attack was given a quality ball, and how they thrived in taking on the opposing defence.
Having shot three wides in as many opening minutes and falling behind to a Rory O'Connor point, they soon began to play with composure and passion, as Tomas Mahon free had the sides level after four minute. They went on to add five unanswered points through Ricky Fox, long free, Dillon Redmond, who curled over a great effort off the sideline, Mahon free and 65, and a Ryan Mahon effort to lead 0-6 to 0-1, at the end of the opening quarter, and this after Aaron Maddock had cleared what appeared a Ryan Mahon goalbound effort off the line with keeper Luke White beaten.
Four Joe Coleman points, three frees, kept St. Martin's in contention, but in first half additional time it was a delightful ball from the veteran Tomas Mahon inside to pick out the inrushing Kevin Foley, who finished to the net with a superb low shot, giving his side a 1-11 to 0-6 interval lead.
One minute into the second half keeper Eamon Furlong denied corner-forward Mikey Coleman with a fine save, while Rapps in their opening second half attack produced a Tomas Mahon pointed free.
But after 35 minutes they got the crucial breakthrough when Darragh Pepper having been picked out by a great Richie Farrell ball through the centre superbly finished low to the corner of the net, giving his side a 2-12 to 0-6 lead.
St. Martin's had to wait until the 38th minute for their first second half score, a Joe Coleman pointed free, and while further points from Coleman and Joe O'Connor reduced the deficit further, it was two Tomas Mahon pointed frees, that kept the Rapps surge afloat.
They really killed off their opponents in the 50th minute, when Liam Ryan, who was creating so much play and space with his strength and ability to win possession, laid off a pass into the path of Tomas Mahon who finished with a superb shot across keeper White into the opposite corner of the net, giving his side a 3-14 to 0-9 lead, leaving no way back for the south county side.
Rapparees: Eamonn Furlong; Ben Edwards, Tom Wall, Dillon Redmond (0-1); Jack Kelly (0-1), Ricky Fox (0-1 free), James Peare; Kevin Foley (1-1), Anthony Roche; Richie Farrell, Liam Ryan, Kevin Ryan; Darragh Pepper (1-0), Tomas Mahon (1-10. 0-9 frees, 0-1, 65), Ryan Mahon (0-2). Subs: Gary Murphy for Furlong (blood sub), Furlong for Murphy; Mel Doyle for Redmond.
St. Martin's: Luke White; Michael Codd, Aaron Maddock, Conor Firman; Daithi Waters, Jack O'Connor, Jake Firman; Mark Maloney (0-1), Paidi Kelly; Joe Coleman (0-7, 0-6 frees), Joe O'Connor (0-1), Darren Codd; Ciaran Lyng, Rory O'Connor (0-2), Mike Coleman. Subs: Eoin O'Leary for Conor Firman; Barry O'Connor for Darren Codd; Jack Devereux for Mikey Coleman.
Referee: Dan Crosby (Kilmore).