It was a measure of St Anne’s performance that warm favourites St Martin’s were made battle to the bitter end before eventually emerging with a two-point victory in this Wexford SHC final played at Innovate Wexford Park yesterday afternoon.
What this final lacked in quality was made up for by sheer passion and endeavour, as the sides struggled for supremacy, but in the end it was a controversial St Martin’s goal two minutes into additional time that was to prove the decisive score. It gave the eventual winners the cushion to hold out in a second half where St Anne’s played the better hurling.
St Anne’s had their chances to cause a shock result. Full-forward Red Barry had two goal attempts inside the opening 10 minutes beaten away by keeper Luke White, while 10 minutes from the end of normal time, Mark Furlong saw a penalty rebound back into play off the upright.
Anne’s also suffered a cruel blow just 18 minutes into the game when Liam Óg McGovern was forced to retire after suffering a blow of a hurley to the face.
The eventual winners led 0-6 to 0-4 after 15 minutes, following the two let-offs from Barry’s goal attempts. It was the point-taking of Joe Coleman that was keeping St Martin’s in front, while Dee O’Keeffe was contributing to his side’s efforts with accurate freetaking.
Approaching the break, St Martin’s were leading by three points, when Jake Firman goalled from close range to give his side a 1-10 to 0-7 interval lead.
The second half was a tense affair. Dee O’Keeffe with two points, one 65 and a free, reduced the deficit, but St Martin’s quickly restored their six-point cushion through points from Joe Coleman, free, and Mikey Coleman.
St Martin’s still led by six points with 20 minutes remaining when Dee O’Keeffe and St Anne’s suddenly stormed into the game. O’Keeffe picked off two excellent points, while Mikey Fogarty added a further point, leaving just three separating the sides with 14 minutes left.
Twelve minutes from the end, Mark Furlong saw his penalty rebound off the upright when a goal would have brought the sides level. Joe Coleman’s points were keeping his side out in front. But with four minutes remaining Darragh Furlong found the net from an acute angle, leaving just a point separating the sides, 1-13 to 1-12.
Joe Coleman responded with two pointed frees before Dee O’Keeffe sent a long-range free over the bar. That left St Martin’s defending desperately in the four minutes of additional time to emerge with their second title in three years.
L White; C Firman, Joe O’Connor, M Maloney; D Waters, W Devereux, P O’Connor; A Maddock, H O’Connor; J Coleman (0-6, 0-5 frees), Jack O’Connor (0-2), J Firman (1-2); D Codd (0-2), C Lyng, M Coleman (0-3).
M Codd for Maloney (54); Kyle Firman for D Codd (55); E O’Leary for P O’Connor (58); B Maddock for M Coleman (61), J Devereux for J Firman (63).
P Brennan; P O’Keeffe, T Cullen, K Clooney; K Whelan, A Craig, M Fogarty (0-1); D O’Keeffe (0-11, 0-7 frees, 0-2, 65s), A Rochford; L Rochford, M Furlong, L Og McGovern; D Furlong (1-1), R Barry, J Fogarty.
Diarmuid O’Connor for McGovern (18); David O’Connor for Fogarty (56).
D Crosby (Kilmore).