Ferns St Aidan’s 1-21, Naomh Éanna 0-12
Naomh Éanna’s debut reign as Pettitt’s county SHC champions was ended by a purposeful Ferns St. Aidan’s outfit in Saturday afternoon’s all-Gorey district quarter-final showdown at an overcast Innovate Wexford Park.
Ferns, competing with real focus throughout, served notice of their intent when striking six unanswered points between the 19th and 27th-minutes to control matters by 0-9 to 0-5, and Johnny Dwyer set them firmly on course for a first semi-final since 2016 with a 44th-minute goal to blow open a 1-16 to 0-11 margin.
The main county-ground was coated in a fresh sprinkling of rain just before throw-in, and rather appropriately the game itself was a fairly damp squib early on as the sides tied on 0-2 apiece after five minutes.
Naomh Éanna tried to assert control as Pádraig Doyle (free), Conor McDonald and Jack Cullen carved out a 0-5 to 0-3 lead midway through the half during a spell in which McDonald also blazed a drive inches across the face of goal and wide.
Ferns capitalised upon that left-off to turn the game on its head during a crucial phase between the 19th and 27th minutes when they gained their first taste of the lead with a succession of points from Paul Morris (2), Ian Byrne (3) and Benny Jordan (0-9 to 0-5).
Pádraig Doyle intervened with a pointed free on 28 minutes for struggling Gorey.
But after another agonising goal miss for Conor McDonald, Ferns ensured they retained the whip-hand at half-time following a late double exchange of points (0-11 to 0-8).
Early second-half points from Pádraig Doyle (free) and Conor McDonald suggested Naomh Éanna were returning with some vigour as the closed to within just 0-11 to 0-10 after 34 minutes.
But Ferns weren’t prepared to allow the door to crack open even a millimetre further as they responded with force to establish a firm grip by 0-16 to 0-10 after 40 minutes courtesy of Ian Byrne (2), Benny Jordan, Johnny Dwyer and Tommy Dwyer.
The peril facing defending champions Gorey was made all the more daunting as a consequence of an error by their goalie which was seized upon by Ferns for Johnny Dwyer to stitch the Clonard-end net in the 44th-minute and open-up a sizeable 1-16 to 0-11 lead.
The margin eventually extended to a crushing 12 points as Ferns defied Naomh Éanna’s valiant efforts to pull the game from out of the fire.
And thus, for the second weekend running, a first-time senior champion from 2018 have exited at the quarter-final stage, with that fate having befallen the footballers of Shelmaliers the previous Sunday.
Ferns St. Aidan’s – James Lawlor; John Breen, James Tonks, Rory Scallan; Niall Murphy (0-1), Conor Scallan, Ciarán Roberts; Gavin Bailey, Benny Jordan (0-4); Ian Byrne (0-9, 3 ’65s, 4 frees), Paul Morris (capt., 0-3), Johnny Dwyer (1-1); Tommy Dwyer (0-1), Eoin Murphy (0-1), Christopher O’Connor.
Sub: Peter O’Toole (0-1) for Tommy Dwyer (56).
Naomh Éanna – Barry Kinsella; Pedro Travers, Brendan Travers (capt.), Eoin Molloy; Jack Cullen (0-1), Seán Doyle, Eoin Conroy; Aodhán Doyle, Gary Molloy; Charlie McGuckin, Pádraig Doyle (0-7, 6 frees), Cathal Dunbar (0-1); Darragh Hughes, Conor McDonald (0-2), David O’Brien (0-1).
Subs: Jack Cushe for Darragh Hughes (HT); Conor Hughes for David O’Brien (46).
Referee – Dan Crosbie (Kilmore).