Rossiter goal vital
Group A of the Senior football championship: Gusserane 2-13 St. James 1-12
A Mark Rossiter goal at the start of the final quarter proved the key score in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday as one of the two perfect records in Group A of the Senior football championship was ended by Gusserane.
Rivals St. James' were on the full four points after the opening two rounds, but precious little went right for them on this occasion as the O'Rahilly's chalked up their second victory and repeated last year's tighter 0-13 to 0-12 win over the same opponents in the process.
It was in that game in April of 2018 that Rossiter sustained a serious injury, so it was a big bonus to see this talented young forward back doing his stuff as he contributed 1-3 from play to the winners' tally.
His side were ahead by 1-10 to 1-7 when his goal arrived, seconds after St. James' defender David Doyle had taken an attempt by Seán Ryan off the line.
However, Gusserane stole back possession as their District rivals tried to work the ball out, with Rossiter getting on the end of a quick transfer of passes before billowing the net.
St. James' had the handicap of playing with 14 men from the eleventh minute onwards, with referee Barry Redmond showing a straight red card to Emmet Dunning for his follow through after Tom Foran went to ground following a foul by Owen Whitty.
With Matthew O'Hanlon and Brendan Doyle unavailable, and Darragh Lyons away for the summer, it was a loss the Ramsgrange side could ill afford, and it didn't get any easier for them when Graeme Molloy was forced off with an injury in the 24th minute.
In mitigation, Gusserane lost their captain, Graeme Cullen, to a black card shortly after Dunning's dismissal, but they went on to lead by 1-7 to 1-5 at half-time after a couple of uncharacteristic late missed scoreable frees from Kevin O'Grady.
The county attacker was held scoreless from play by his impressive Wexford colleague, Gavin Sheehan, but he had ample chances from the placed ball as the free count was a staggering 33-8 in St. James' favour (17-3 in the first-half).
Adrian Flynn (free) and Donal Barron swapped early points before Gusserane full-back Kenneth Cahill got great joy from an excursion upfield in the fifth minute.
He was brought down after getting on the end of a move featuring Flynn and Páraic Conway, and there's no better man to crash home a penalty than the number three as he duly proved from the spot.
The lead only lasted for two minutes before Robbie Barron was the key figure in fashioning an equalising goal, playing a one-two with Graeme Molloy near the right endline before his fist to the near post was palmed to the net by Tommy Walsh (1-1 each).
O'Grady and Flynn exchanged points from frees, but there was more space for Gusserane to exploit, and more covering for their rivals to get through, after that sending-off.
Mark O'Neill made a fine block to deny Donal Barron a potential goal in the 14th minute, and an outside of the boot point from Mark Rossiter was one of the second quarter highlights as the eventual winners went on to lead by 1-7 to 1-5 at half-time.
Midfielder Cillian Kehoe also contributed a fisted point, and his dominance in the air was a significant feature of the second period as he was responsible for three marks.
St. James' will look back in frustration at the shot by substitute James Walsh that crashed off the crossbar in the 33rd minute, and there didn't seem to be a way back for them after Rossiter's goal was followed by a pointed Adrian Flynn free to make it 2-11 to 1-7.
They made Gusserane earn it all the same, with the victors grateful to the speedy Seán Ryan for two late breakaway points on either side of the last St. James' score from Tommy Walsh.
Prior to that, the Jimmies had hit four on the bounce from O'Grady (free), Brian Molloy (two, one free) and James Walsh, and they could still have a major say in this championship if they can get their strongest team on the field before the end of the month.
Gusserane: Micheál Ryan; Jack O'Connor, Kenneth Cahill (1-0 pen.), Jack Burford; Adrian Redmond, Gavin Sheehan, Mark O'Neill; Cillian Kehoe (0-1), John Roche; Tom Foran (0-1), Graeme Cullen (capt.), Páraic Conway (0-1); Seán Ryan (0-2), Adrian Flynn (0-4, 3 frees), Mark Rossiter (1-3). Subs. - Shane Flynn (0-1) for Cullen, black card (14), Sam Wall for Cahill (34), Shane Cullen for Roche (42), Eoin Ryan for Redmond (51), Roche for Foran (60+1).
St. James': John Ryan; Paul Barron (capt.), Jason Barron, David Doyle; Brian Molloy (0-2, 1 free), Emmet Dunning, Owen Whitty; Liam Murphy, Daniel Keating; Donal Barron (0-1), Kevin O'Grady (0-7 frees), Robbie Barron; Mark Molloy, Graeme Molloy, Tommy Walsh (1-1). Subs. - James Walsh (0-1) for G. Molloy, inj. (24), Alan Walsh for Whitty (60+1).
Referee: Barry Redmond (Na Fianna Clonard)