Fethard shine in local derby
Fethard 1-15 - Dunbrody Gaels 2-4
The Fethard feel-good factor rose by another notch in Horeswood on Friday when the club warmed up for their weekend trip to London with an ultimately emphatic victory over near neighbours Dunbrody Gaels in the preliminary round of the Greenstar Under-21 football Premier championship.
The sides were on level terms in the 37th minute after Colin Kehoe struck for the combination crew's second goal, but that was the signal for the seasiders to move effortlessly on to the next level.
Their superior teamwork and understanding was clear as they went on to outscore the Horeswood/St. James' amalgamation by nine points to one, cruising into an 'A' quarter-final in the process.
The three players likely to start in next Saturday's All-Ireland Junior hurling quarter-final all came through unscathed, although Daire Barden was played out of position between the posts as he didn't want to aggravate a dead leg injury.
Joe Sutton was full of running from centre-back and contributed two second-half points, while the job was well and truly done by the time Mikie Dwyer was withdrawn in the 56th minute.
David Murphy had been given the thankless task of keeping tabs on the county Senior after a Dunbrody Gaels re-shuffle, but the Fethard ace kicked a brace of points from play and added three more from frees in a 13-minute spell as his side underlined their superiority.
Another hurler, Richie Waters, plus Adam Swan were notable absentees for the winners who were victorious in the Wexford People Minor football Premier championship final with this team three years ago.
Dwyer swapped points with dual county Minor Seán Nolan early on before Dunbrody pounced for a morale-boosting goal in the fourth minute.
Tomás Walsh robbed Fethard captain Seán Donohoe as he tried to play the ball out from defence, giving Daire Barden no chance with his subsequent shot before Jamie Myler increased the lead with a tenth-minute point (1-2 to 0-1).
Fethard quickly found their feet, though, with Jimmy Sutton, Christopher Molloy and Mikie Dwyer on target before wing-back Martin Doyle came forward to equalise in the 24th minute.
Stand-in netminder Barden made a fine save from a Seán Nolan piledriver before Fethard hit the front again with a goal in added time.
A Doyle free-kick came back into play off the post, and full-forward Ricky Rowe was on hand to bundle the ball home.
A late Jamie Myler point left Dunbrody trailing by 1-5 to 1-3 at half-time, and they resumed with David Murphy at centre-back, Darragh Lyons at midfield, and Alan Walsh at centre-forward.
James Fitzgerald was an early casualty to a black card, with Joe Sutton stretching the Fethard lead to three points before Dunbrody levelled in the 37th minute.
Seán Nolan intercepted a handpass and set up Colin Kehoe for a close-range finish (2-3 to 1-6), but Fethard responded with five points before Nolan grabbed the losers' last score in the 48th minute.
The winners had kicked eight wides before the break, but just three were added in a far more productive second period.
And Dwyer was at the centre of everything, winning and converting two frees before adding a brace from play after Joe Sutton came forward to kick his second point in between.
Aaron Mythen used his foot to save a Christopher Molloy goal attempt, but Fethard continued to dominate the last ten minutes as Jimmy Sutton (two), Dwyer (free) and substitute Peter Waters added points without reply.
Sutton also shot low and wide with a green flag on his mind, while Dylan Whitty had an effort saved at the other end before P.J. Chapman was denied by a superb diving block by Seán Sutton.
London may be calling this weekend, but the month of December will see Fethard make a bold bid to add a first-ever Premier 'A' Under-21 football crown to their impressive list of honours, with Gusserane the next target.
Fethard: Daire Barden; Colm Ryan, Seán Donohoe (capt.), Seán Sutton; James Dillon, Joe Sutton (0-2), Martin Doyle (0-1); Danny Johnston, Christopher Molloy (0-1); Cillian Molloy, Mikie Dwyer (0-7, 3 frees), Jimmy Sutton (0-3); Aaron Murphy, Ricky Rowe (1-0), Jean Luc Tubritt. Subs. - Adam Waters for Cillian Molloy (50), Peter Waters (0-1) for Murphy (52), Brian Dillon for Tubritt (54), Evan Rowe for Dwyer (56).
Dunbrody Gaels: Aaron Mythen; Eamonn O'Sullivan, Kevin Parker (capt.), Jamie Doran; Damien Hearn, Darragh Lyons, David Murphy; Alan Walsh, Seán Nolan (0-2); James Fitzgerald, Jamie Myler (0-2), Colin Kehoe (1-0); P.J. Chapman, Tomás Walsh (1-0), Dylan Whitty. Sub. - Conor Dalton for Fitzgerald, black card (36).
Referee: Pat Kehoe (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown).