Wygram hit back to record fine victory
Strong start to second-half crucial
An incredible eight minutes after the half-time break changed the course of this New Ross Standard Under-14 hurling Division 3 championship tie in Coolcotts on Thursday.
Wygram Gaels 4-6 St James' 2-7
Wygram Gaels, the combination of the hosts and St. John's Volunteers, were trailing a talented young St. James' side by 1-5 to 1-2 at the interval but outscored their opponents by 3-2 to 0-1 in that eight-minute spell to set the Wexford town combination on the road to victory.
The turnaround was partly inspired by the introduction of Michael Dempsey at half-time to add a bit more fire-power to the full-forward line, but also to the gelling of Reece Murphy and Glen Murphy-Butler in midfield as they took over the game in the centre third.
They were also aided by a superb performance at number 11 by Cian Kehoe. The centre-forward's control at speed and direct running style proved almost impossible for the New Ross District side to handle.
The visitors got on the scoreboard first with the impressive Sam Wallace and Ben McPhillips hitting points. Wygram responded when Kehoe burst away out of a scrum with the ball and blasted it past Alfie Eite.
St. James' then had their strongest spell of the game. A ball in from the right wing by Colum Fitzgerald was flicked to the net by Wallace before points were quickly added by Keelin Foley, McPhillips and Tommy Barron (1-5 to 1-0).
However, the home Gaels showed signs of what was to follow and cut the deficit before the interval through Josh McMahon and Kehoe. Super-sub Dempsey almost made an immediate impact when his shot fizzed wide seconds after the re-start, but he made no mistake moments later when pulling home from Glen Murphy-Butler's ball in.
McPhillips pulled a score back for his side after the goal but Wygram were getting up a head of steam and after Murphy-Butler pointed, Kehoe added his second goal. St. James' were still reeling from the blow of goal three when Kehoe had another shot saved, Josh Kavanagh claimed possession from the rebound and found the net.
Trailing by 4-4 to 1-6, St. James' battled away and got closer when Joe McPhillips goaled and Wallace pointed. Yet it was Wygram's day and they finished with points from Murphy-Butler to take the victory.
Wygram Gaels: Darragh Kehoe; Richard Browne, Josh Murphy, Colm Furlong; Justin Kemp, Harry Kehoe, Eoin McBride; Reece Murphy, Glen Murphy-Butler (0-4, 3 frees); Josh McMahon (0-1), Cian Kehoe (2-1), Josh Kavanagh (1-0); Oisín Kehoe, Ciarán Cullen, Cian Butler. Subs. - Michael Dempsey (1-0) for Cullen (26), Eoin Foley for C. Butler (26), Paddy O'Reilly for Kemp (26), Josh Howlin for O. Kehoe (46).
St. James': Alife Eite; James Nolan, Rory Lynch, Darragh McPhillips; Daniel Behan, Pádraig Barron, Seán O'Grady; Owen Whitty, Ben McPhillips (0-3, 1 free); Colum Fitzgerald, Sam Wallace (1-2), Tommy Barron (0-1); Shane Dunne, Keelin Foley (0-1), Mark Whitty. Subs. - Ciarán McPhillips for Dunne (12), Joe McPhillips (1-0) for C. McPhillips (36), also Josh Keating.
Referee: Francis Neville (Shelmaliers).