Never-say-die Stradbally win after storming finish

DEFENDING champions Stradbally snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Rathgormack in an exciting Waterford SFC group game at Fraher Field, Dungarvan on Saturday.

This 0-15 to 2-8 win seals the champions place in the knockout quarter-final stage but they were made to pull out all the stops to deny a Rathgormack outfit that surrendered a seemingly secure four-point lead with less than ten minutes remaining.

Paudie Whelan’s 26-minute goal enabled Rathgormack to lead by 1-5 to 0- 6 at the interval, but the sides were level midway through the second half with Stradbally’s Niall Curran, Robert and Shane Ahearn all kicking quality points.

Whelan’s second goal however in the 46th minute gave Rathgormack vital breathing space and when they eased four points clear, 2-8 to 0-10, by the 51st minute a shock result was very much on the cards.

The maxim that good champions die hard however was superbly exemplified by Stradbally in those closing stages and five unanswered points, including the score of the game by hurling star Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh, gave them their priceless victory.

In one final twist Rathgormack defender Jamie Kirwan was sent off and with virtually the last kick of the game their midfielder Ronan Cahill was just off target from a long range free to deny them a division of the spoils.

In the opening game on Saturday Ballinacourty also guaranteed themselves a place in the quarter-final with a deserved 1-11 to 1-5 victory against an Ardmore side that paid the supreme penalty for the prodigal wastage of their forwards over the hour.

Mark Ferncombe scored the ‘Courty goal in the 15th minute and nine minutes later wing back Wayne Hennessy cancelled it out with a brilliant effort for the seasiders.

The winners were good value for their 1-5 to 1-3 half-time lead and while Ardmore were still in with a shout of victory for much of the second half ‘Courty who finished the stronger.

They sealed their win with a brace of Gary Hurney points and one each from Ferncombe and Mark Fives.

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