Roinn 1 holders overcome first Premier U-21 hurdle
Gusserane 2-10 Forth and Bargy 2-5
Twelve of the 16 players used in last year's Roinn 1 county final victory were still on view for Gusserane in Tagoat on Saturday when they saw off the Forth and Bargy Gaels combination to book a spot in the Greenstar Under-21 football Premier 'A' championship quarter-final.
And they had to call on plenty of that know-how garnered in 2016 to make sure of success after leading by a mere 1-6 to 1-4 at half-time following first use of the wind on a nice November afternoon.
The modern running and handpassing game tends to lessen the influence of the elements, though, and Gusserane got the job done against opponents who were dealt a cruel blow at the break when county Senior Naomhan Rossiter had to vacate his centre-back post owing to injury.
The St. Fintan's, Our Lady's Island and St. Mary's (Rosslare) crew only managed two scores after the interval and didn't register at all for over 18 minutes, but at least the new format ensures they will get another outing in the last eight of the inaugural Premier 'B' championship.
Forth and Bargy threatened early on when Shea Boggan raced towards goal, but Gusserane full-back Mark O'Neill made an important interception and his team went on to kick the first three points thanks to Kevin O'Donohoe and a Sam Wall brace.
Free-taker Cathal Devereux got the home side off the mark in the 19th minute, with O'Donohoe responding with his second before a Jack Burford placed ball pushed Gusserane 5-1 clear.
Their first goal followed in the 24th minute, with Mark Rossiter delivering a short pass on the right flank to O'Donohoe whose delivery into the danger area was palmed to the net by an unmarked Adrian Redmond.
That score widened the gap to seven points, but the margin was down to just two by the break.
Cathal Devereux's second successful free was followed by a Forth and Bargy goal when Eoin O'Callaghan popped a handpass into the air for Adam Devereux to knock it home, and they almost added a quick second but Micheál Ryan made a super save from a Shea Boggan piledriver.
Two more Cathal Devereux points were registered on either side of a Mark Rossiter effort for Gusserane in a half featuring a 21-4 free count in favour of the hosts.
The loss of Naomhan Rossiter was a major setback for Forth and Bargy, and the only two points of the third quarter came from Gusserane's Sam Wall and Rossiter (free), with that first shot brilliantly finger-tipped over the bar by a diving Eoin Cummins.
The decisive second goal for the visitors arrived in the 48th minute when Seán O'Connor did well to keep a Jack Burford free in play, and Mark Rossiter was on hand to scramble the ball to the net (2-8 to 1-4).
Adam Devereux responded with the sole Forth and Bargy point of the half, and both sides then missed out on goal chances as Cummins saved from Sam Wall before Eoin Ryan's interception stopped Cian Boggan from picking out Cathal Devereux.
Mark Rossiter converted another free before Cian Boggan crashed home a consolation penalty goal - after a footblock on Adam Devereux's shot - even though Micheál Ryan got a hand to the ball.
The hard-working Seán O'Connor closed the scoring for Gusserane who may have to wait a number of weeks for their next game given that only two of the 'A' quarter-finalists are known at present.
Gusserane: Micheál Ryan; Chris Cullen, Mark O'Neill, Eoghan Foran; Donal Kiely, Gavin Sheehan, Jack Burford (0-1 free); John Roche, Tommy Ryan; Jack Culleton, Mark Rossiter (1-3, 0-3 frees), Adrian Redmond (1-0); Kevin O'Donohoe (0-2), Seán O'Connor (0-1), Sam Wall (0-3). Subs. - Eoin Ryan for Cullen (HT), Oisín Foran for Culleton, inj. (41), Eoin Codd for T. Ryan (57), Colin Walsh for O'Donohoe (57), Stephen Whelan for E. Foran (60).
Forth and Bargy Gaels: Eoin Cummins; Rob Cloney, Seán Finan, Paul Cummins; Philip Lambert, Naomhan Rossiter, Robert Coakley; Shea Boggan, Eoin O'Callaghan; Adam Devereux (1-1), Cian Boggan (capt., 1-0 pen.), Cian Meyler; David Pettit, Cathal Devereux (0-4 frees), Rees Broaders. Subs. - Conor Sinnott for Rossiter, inj. (HT), Liam Flood for Lambert (40), Dean Corish for Pettit (59), Kevin Power for Broaders (59).
Referee: James Flood (St. Mary's, Maudlintown).