The great escape!
SHC Group A - Fethard 3-16, St. Martin's 2-15
Having gone through late agony in the Senior football championship, Fethard flipped it around with joyous scenes greeting their first Pettitt's Senior hurling championship Group A victory in O'Kennedy Park, New Ross, on Sunday.
The end result was identical, a fifth place finish, but the route getting to that point and the significance of cementing a spot in the top tier for the 2020 season cannot be underestimated for the New Ross District club.
They were superb in this game, and their hunger was just as one would expect it from a side battling for their lives. However, it was their excellent gameplan and impressive level of quality that really shone through.
Fethard were happy to suck men into deep areas that made it difficult for St. Martin's to operate. They had the quality in the full-forward line to win their individual battles, not just once or twice but continuously.
On the other hand, this was fairly abysmal for a St. Martin's side with designs on re-taking the county title. There's absolutely no doubt about it, this type of performance just won't get it done and they will know that as well as anyone.
The Piercestown-based side didn't play well anywhere. Their defence was open and second best, their midfield got bogged down in Fethard bodies, and their forwards missed too many decent goal chances to get the job done.
The biggest disappointment, for someone who hadn't seen St. Martin's this season, was the lack of silky link-up play for which they are renowned.
There were some flips and clever passes but largely it felt more like a group of individuals struggling to gel rather than a performance of an in-tune team.
Jake Firman forced Seán Foley into an early save but Fethard were 0-3 to 0-1 up at the other end after Darren Foley opened his account.
Following a Ciarán Lyng point, Fethard nabbed their opening goal when Bryan Power picked out Graham O'Grady and he drilled to the net.
St. Martin's seemed to be waking up in the second quarter. Foley saved a Joe Coleman bullet over the crossbar and made a double stop from Darren Codd and Jack O'Connor, however it wasn't third time lucky as Kyle Firman picked up the loose ball and flashed home.
Twenty seconds later they had a second goal, this one finished with aplomb by Mikey Coleman.
From four points ahead they failed to push on, and instead Eddie Power grabbed a 28th-minute goal as his side went in just 2-8 to 2-7 down.
Playing against the light breeze, Fethard took just 20 seconds after the resumption to find Mikie Dwyer on the run and he flashed past Luke White. St. Martin's never got back on level terms.
The Wexford District side struggled to find points from play, with just two in the half.
Fethard just kept chipping away, and John Tubritt got three lovely scores, Bryan Power grabbed a couple, but it was Darren Foley's line ball score that finished off the St. Martin's resistance.
While Fethard can look forward to another crack at Senior hurling in 2020, St. Martin's will need to improve going forward and have a quarter-final against Glynn-Barntown for which to prepare.
Fethard: Seán Foley; Martin Power, Daniel Mullan, Joe Sutton; Garrett Foley, Daire Barden, Richie Waters (0-1); Graham O'Grady (1-0), Jimmy Sutton (0-1); Eddie Power (1-0), Mikie Dwyer (1-3, 0-2 frees), Darren Foley (0-3, 1 free, 1 line ball); Bryan Power (0-3), John Tubritt (0-4), Ciarán Dwyer (0-1).
St. Martin's: Luke White; Mark Maloney, Patrick O'Connor, Eoin O'Leary; Ben Maddock, Paudie Kelly, Daithí Waters; Jake Firman, Rory O'Connor (0-1); Darren Codd, Jack O'Connor (0-2), Joe Coleman (0-10, 8 frees); Mikey Coleman (1-0), Ciarán Lyng (0-2), Kyle Firman (1-0). Subs. - Harry O'Connor for Codd (35), Joe O'Connor for O'Leary (37), Willie Devereux for P. O'Connor (44), Michael Codd for Maddock (52).
Referee: Barry Redmond (Na Fianna Clonard).