In a dramatic end inter-county player Paul Morris with a point in the closing minute of extra time sent reigning champions Rapparees crashing out of the title race as Ferns gained a dramatic 1-23 to 0-25 victory at Chadwicks Wexford Park yesterday evening.
Ferns' victory was all the more dramatic for they went seventeen minutes of the second half without registering a single score, by which stage the reigning champions had built a six point lead, 0-14 to 0-8, and looked quite comfortable.
With the Pepper brothers, Darragh and Oisin, on form along with the freetaking of Ryan Mahon, the Rapps looked in control, but then a dramatic John Breen fifty-fourth minute goal changed the game. It came after Ian Byrne had ended their second half drought with a forty-seventh minute pointed free.
The goal left two points separating the sides, but with Ferns reduced to fourteen players, Conor Scallan straight red carded on sixty-two minutes, they faced an uphill battle. But in second half additional time, Ian Byrne sent over two pointed frees, the levelling score coming on sixty-seven minutes, leaving the sides deadlocked 0-17 to 1-14, at the end of normal time.
The Rapparees had led 0-9 to 0-8 at the interval, with Ryan Mahon and Liam Ryan being their main marksman, while Ian Byrne pointed frees kept Ferns in contention, while Kevin Foley sent a twenty-eighth minute penalty wide.
The sides continued to trade scores in the opening period of extra time and they were still deadlocked 0-22 to 1-19 at the break. In a thrilling final ten minutes it was Ferns who edged in front through two Byrne frees, while Darragh Pepper and Anthony Murphy points had the sides level, 0-25 to 1-22, when Morris sent over that dramatic winning point.
In the opening semi-final, St Martin's inspire by the point taking of Joe Coleman, with six, and Kyle Firman, with six, shocked Naomh Eanna as they emerged with a 0-20 to 0-15 victory.
Rathnure preserved their 81-year stay in senior championship hurling with a 2-20 to 0-20 victory over Cloughbawn in their relegation play-off the all important goals coming through Michael O'Connor and Mikey Redmond.