Ferns St Aidan's hold firm to make joyous history in Wexford

FERNS refused to endure more final pain as they turned in a sparkling finish
Ferns St Aidan's hold firm to make joyous history in Wexford

Ferns St Aidan's manager Pat Bennett and Ian Byrne of Ferns St Aidan's celebrate after the Wexford County Senior Hurling Championship Final match between St Martin's and Ferns St Aidan's at Chadwicks Wexford Park in Wexford. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Wexford SHC Final: Ferns St Aidan's 1-20 St Martin's 0-22

FERNS refused to endure more final pain as they turned in a sparkling finish to create their own piece of history with a first senior title after this enthralling Pettitt's Wexford SHC decider at Chadwick's Wexford Park.

St Martin's trailed 1-18 to 0-19 with three minutes remaining but two Joe Coleman pointed frees had the sides level on 60 with three minutes of additional time signalled.

Ferns St. Aidan's celebrate after the game
Ferns St. Aidan's celebrate after the game

Credit to Ferns, they kept their composure. First sub Chris O'Connor latched onto a breaking ball to send over the lead point a minute into added time, and when Jonny Dwyer stood tall to split the posts with a marvellous 60-metre sideline cut, it gave them a two-point cushion.

It wasn't over. A Joe Coleman pointed free left the minimum separating the sides, but referee Eamonn Furlong called time on the puckout.

Ferns manager Pat Bennett was elated with the victory.

"This year it was our mission to win the title and bring the cup back to the parish for the first time. We had huge support there today and this victory was for them, they have been so loyal through this campaign and over the years of disappointment.

'I was thinking it was looking like a replay. It was just great how they responded with those two points. It was relief, unbelievable."

St Martin's manager Daithí Hayes, in his first season in charge, was "gutted but so proud".

"Look, we lost two key players, Rory and Jack O'Connor, through injury, but still that was an unbelievable effort from the lads.

'For so long people had us as relegation candidates, but the players were immense, showed unbelievable heart. We could have snatched a draw, we are gutted with the end result."

A first final meeting between these sides had a tense start as Joe Coleman and Paul Morris traded early points. It then evolved into a shootout between Coleman and Ian Byrne, while St. Martin's impressive attacker Kyle Firman also managed to send over some excellent points. Ferns lead 0-5 to 0-4 at the end of the opening quarter.

The players were feeling the effects of the intense heat, but following a water break the tempo of the game increased. Coleman and Byrne continued to trade points, while Jonny Dwyer had a marvellous effort off the sideline.

Players were clearly feeling the pressure, but still the hurling was fast and fluent as they continued to spray the ball into the open spaces.

After Ferns had stretched into a 0-8 to 0-5 lead, St.Martin's refused to buckle, responding with three unanswered points through Coleman, 65, Kyle Firman and Luke Kavanagh to tie the sides at 0-8 apiece.

After Jake Firman and Jack Devereux pointed St. Martin's in front, it was Ferns who struck for a crucial score in additional time. Wing-Back Patrick Breen spotted a gap and raced through the centre before booting the ball to the roof of the net from the edge of the square - his side led 1-9 to 0-11 at the interval.

Paul Morris and Kyle Firman opened the second half with splendid points, and as the sides continued to trade white flags it was Ferns who led 1-16 to 0-16 entering the final quarter.

They stretched that lead through a glorious Diarmuid Doyle point, but Martin's showed real battling qualities to respond with points from Mikie Coleman and Joe Coleman, 65.

Corey Byrne-Dunbar and Kyle Firman exchanged points to leave Ferns on the verge, but then Coleman pointed those frees to set up the dramatic finale.

The game was flowing from end to end. Sub Chris O'Connor pointed Ferns back in front, then came Dwyer's marvellous missile from the sideline.

Coleman chose to point rather than attempt a goal at the end and referee Eamonn Furlong's whistle ignited delirious celebrations.

Scorers for St Aidan's: I Byrne (0-5, 0-4 frees); C Byrne-Dunbar (0-4);P Breen (1-0); P Morris (1 free), J Dwyer (1 sideline cut) (0-3 each); D Doyle (0-2); J Tonks, B Jordan, C O'Connor (0-1 each)

Scorers for St Martin's: J Coleman (0-10, 7 frees, 0-2 65s); K Firman (0-5); J Firman (0-2); J Barrett, L Kavanagh, A Maddock, M Coleman, J Devereux (0-1 each).

FERNS ST. AIDAN'S: J Lawlor; J Tonks, N Murphy, D Byrne; P Breen, E Murphy, C Roberts; R Scallan, I Byrne; T Dwyer, C Turner, C Byrne-Dunbar); D Doyle, P Morris, J Dwyer. 

Subs: B Jordan for I Byrne (inj. 38), J Breen for Turner (42), C O'Connor for Doyle (58), R Nolan for Scallan (60); Turner for Byrne-Dunbar (62 blood sub).

ST. MARTIN'S: D Byrne; J Barrett, P Dempsey, P O'Connor; D Codd, C Firman, D O'Leary; M Maloney, L Kavanagh; J Coleman, A Maddock, M Coleman; J Firman, K Firman, J Devereux. 

Subs: D Codd for Devereux (43), W Devereux for Kavanagh (50), J O'Connor for M Coleman (52), D Waters for Maloney (54).

Referee: Eamonn Furlong (Rapparees/Starlights).

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