1 Martins WEB

Rory blow for 2017 champions as Martin’s survive late Ferns’ raid : Report Ronan Fagan

St. Martin’s 2-16, Ferns St. Aidan’s 1-15

2017 county champions St. Martin’s survived a determined late push by Ferns St. Aidan’s before deservedly forging through to a third Pettitt’s county SHC final on the trot by virtue of Saturday afternoon’s penultimate-round victory at sunny Innovate Wexford Park.

The Piercestown-Murrintown men held the upper-hand much of the way – leading 1-11 to 0-6 at half-time and 1-15 to 0-12 on 58 minutes – before Ferns threatened to salvage at least a replay after sub Chris Turner netted and Ian Byrne added two frees.

But St. Martin’s nerves were soothed when substitute Darren Codd netted to ensure the maroon-and-white are back in familiar territory, having finished as runners-up twice within the last four years in addition to being champions two years ago.

But St. Martin’s will be concerned regarding the availability of Rory O’Connor for the showpiece after the Wexford star was dismissed on a straight red-card after an off-the-ball incident in the second-half.

The game exploded with opportunities for both sides early on, with Ciarán Lyng pointing St. Martin’s in front in the third-minute, before a Johnny Dwyer line-ball found Paul Morris only for Morris to see his goaling effort blocked.

Ferns were unable to find the verve which had underpinned their quarter-final dethroning of defending champions Naomh Éanna, and St. Martin’s were soon threatening to run riot. But a bunch of wides halted their progress in addition to Mikey Coleman being denied a goal by defender Niall Murphy.

Joe Coleman was hitting the right notes though for the Martin’s as a trio of points from the big Joe eased the Martin’s clear by 0-5 to 0-2.

While hard-working Ferns got it back to the minimum courtesy of Johnny Dwyer and Ian Byrne (free), the winners gained a real foothold in the 22nd-minute when Jake Firman flicked to the town-end net after a Willie Devereux long-range free was touched on by Jack O’Connor. The latter’s younger brother Rory then added a point for a 1-6 to 0-4 advantage.

While the sides shared the next four points, St. Martin’s strengthened their grip with a three late points, from Harry O’Connor, Joe Coleman (free from his own half) and Mikey Coleman to lead 1-11 to 0-6 at half-time.

Ferns purposefully made in-roads on the resumption as Ian Byrne (2 frees) and Christopher O’Connor cut the gap to 1-12 to 0-9 inside four minutes.

Both sides were then reduced to 14-men after separate off-the-ball incidents resulted in Rory O’Connor (St. Martin’s) and Tommy Dwyer (Ferns) both receiving the ultimate sanction from referee Justin Heffernan.

The game petered out for a spell thereafter, with St. Martin’s failing to put the game the bed as they tagged on six wides (they shot 14 overall to Ferns’ 6) while maintaining the whip-hand after 58 minutes (1-15 to 0-12).

But Ferns put in one last raid, and sub Chris Turner goaled to peg it back to 1-15 to 1-12 in the 59th-minute, before two Ian Byrne frees cut it to 1-15 to 1-14 in the second of four additional-minutes and had their connections dreaming.

St. Martin’s breath easily though when a Daithí Waters’ pointing effort came back off an upright and fell to sub Darren Codd, who rammed an angled finish to the Clonard-end net in the third-minute of added-time (2-15 to 1-14).

A late exchange of points wrapped things up as St. Martin’s deservedly advance, but needing to get their shooting much sharper, and hoping to get Rory O’Connor cleared for county final action on October 27th next.

St. Martin’s – Luke White; Conor Firman, Joe O’Connor, Mark Maloney; Daithí Waters, Willie Devereux (capt.), Patrick O’Connor; Aaron Maddock, Harry O’Connor (0-1); Joe Coleman (0-9, 1 line-ball, 3 frees), Jack O’Connor (0-2, 1 line-ball, 1 free), Jake Firman (1-1); Ciarán Lyng (0-1), Rory O’Connor (0-1), Mikey Coleman (0-1).

Subs: Darren Codd (1-0) for Mikey Coleman (49); Eoin O’Leary for Mark Maloney (57); Michael Codd for Aaron Maddock (57); Ben Maddock for Jake Firman (58); Kyle Firman for Joe Coleman (60+4).

Ferns St. Aidan’s – James Lawlor; Rory Scallan, John Breen, Niall Murphy; James Tonks (0-1), Conor Scallan (-1), Ciarán Roberts; Ian Byrne (0-8 frees), Gavin Bailey; Johnny Dwyer (0-2, 1 line-ball), Eoin Murphy, Tommy Dwyer; Brendan Jordan, Paul Morris (capt., 0-1), Christopher O’Connor (0-2).

Subs: Peter O’Toole for Eoin Murphy (46); Declan Byrne for Rory Scallan (51); Chris Turner (1-0) for Johnny Dwyer (52); Patrick O’Hagan for Ciarán Roberts.

Referee – Justin Heffernan (Blackwater).