Two goals in 90 seconds vital
Amber Springs/Ashdown Park Hotels IFC semi-final replay: HWH-Bunclody 2-9 St Mary's (M'town) 0-9
A powerful second quarter made all the difference in Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday when HWH-Bunclody hit 2-3 without reply in a fruitful spell to leave St. Mary's (Maudlintown) with too much catching up to do in this long-delayed Ashdown Park/Amber Springs Hotels Intermediate football championship semi-final replay.
The sides were deadlocked on 0-3 each at the 15-minute mark after an equaliser by Pierce Dooley for the Wexford town men, and this score produced a huge turning point.
Patrick Kavanagh's short kick-out that followed was intercepted by Todd Hynes who bore down on the Clonard end goal, but the netminder redeemed himself by saving the piledriver that followed with his outstretched leg.
It had the combined effect of rousing HWH-Bunclody and deflating their rivals, because the spell that followed up to half-time was completely dominated by the wind-aided Enniscorthy District men.
Peter Atkinson put them ahead after punishing a fumble by a Mary's defender, and the first goal followed in the 22nd minute.
Aidan Nolan was central to everything of a positive nature produced by his side, and he threaded a neat ball that reached Eoin Kelly, who got to his feet quickly after an initial stumble following a tackle.
He transferred the ball to the unmarked Peter Atkinson, and the wily attacker picked his spot in the top right corner of Paul Dempsey's net to stretch the lead to 1-4 to 0-3.
That score, in itself, wouldn't have necessarily been the end of the world for St. Mary's, but the fact that it was followed swiftly by a second goal was a devastating blow for a club whose sole Intermediate semi-final win arrived in 1984.
Just over 90 seconds later, Billy Kelly and Kevin Dunne did well in the build-up before centre-forward Páraic Sinnott calmly rounded the netminder and blasted high to the net to widen the gap to seven points.
Cathal Doyle and Aidan Nolan points left HWH-Bunclody clear by nine at the break (2-6 to 0-3), but they had to endure an uncomfortable second-half before getting the job done.
A good long-range point by Dermot Flood after 40 seconds gave St. Mary's an early lift on the re-start, and it was the first of five unanswered scores during the third quarter that narrowed the deficit to 2-6 to 0-8.
The driving runs of Mark Doyle from right half-back went largely unchecked before HWH-Bunclody made a substitution to curb his influence, and the Maudlintown men gradually built momentum as Todd Hynes, Flood, Christy Lane and Hynes (free) all hit the target.
HWH-Bunclody earned a precious respite in the 46th minute when Martin O'Connor placed Aidan Nolan for his third point, but Flood responded with a beauty from 50 metres to make it 2-7 to 0-9.
St. Mary's really needed a goal to set up a tense finish, but the opposition defence held firm and the closest they came to rattling the net in the second-half was from a swing of the boot by Donal O'Leary in the 50th minute that seemed to hit Emmett Nolan before being scrambled out for a '45.
John Dunne's first function after coming off the bench was to curl over a sweet point for HWH-Bunclody from the left, and he also gave the last pass for Byron Byrne to kick the final score in the 57th minute.
St. Mary's had lost Dermot Flood to a black card 60 seconds earlier for a trip on Aidan Nolan, and their frustration also led to a straight red for Pierce Dooley when he reacted to being fouled by striking Eoin Kelly.
The losers had rattled the net inside three minutes of the start after a lovely cross from Jason Swords, but veteran Donal O'Leary fouled the ball before getting it over the line.
O'Leary did open their account from a free via the post, with Peter Atkinson levelling before Aidan Nolan gave HWH-Bunclody the lead.
Kevin Dunne came close to goaling twice in the seventh minute, but Alex Lynch made a fine block on his first kick before the second attempt was turned over the bar by Paul Dempsey - deputising in goal for Dylan Owens who had sustained an injury since the drawn game five weeks earlier.
St. Mary's drew level through Christy Lane and Pierce Dooley, with Dempsey pushing away a goalbound drive by Aidan Nolan in between, but their potentially dangerous attack was well held in general on an afternoon when Billy Kelly could be well pleased with his marking job on the promising Todd Hynes.
Momentum will be with HWH-Bunclody now as they face into Saturday's final against Crossabeg-Ballymurn. They are the first club to contest both Intermediate deciders in the same year since they last did it themselves in 2010, winning the hurling against Shamrocks one week after losing the football to St. Mary's (Rosslare) on that occasion.
And given that they have already lost the small ball final to Cloughbawn, they will be hoping for another 50% record at this stage to match nine years ago, and a first title in this grade since 1976.
HWH-Bunclody: Patrick Kavanagh; Conor Crean, Colm Farrell (joint capt.), Adam Hogan; Ciarán Kavanagh, Martin O'Connor, Billy Kelly; Seán Kenny (joint capt.), Aidan Nolan (0-3); Eoin Kelly, Páraic Sinnott (1-0), Cathal Doyle (0-1); Byron Byrne (0-1), Kevin Dunne (0-1), Peter Atkinson (1-2). Subs. - Jamie Kavanagh for Doyle (44), John Dunne (0-1) for Sinnott (52), Edward Dunbar for Atkinson (54), Josh Martin for K. Dunne (54), Keith O'Hara for Byrne (60).
St. Mary's (Maudlintown): Paul Dempsey; Alex Lynch, Liam Barry, Alan Lynch; Mark Doyle, Warren Broaders, Jamie Thomas; Martin O'Connor, Christy Lane (capt., 0-2); Todd Hynes (0-2, 1 free), Dermot Flood (0-3), Eddie Pitman; Jason Swords, Donal O'Leary (0-1 free), Pierce Dooley (0-1). Subs. - Emmett Nolan for Thomas (44), Graham Carty for Flood, black card (56), Gary Murphy for Alan Lynch (58).
Referee: John Carton (Monageer-Boolavogue).