Wednesday 24 April 2019

Gorey produce a little extra

Naomh Eanna 4-4 Duffry Rovers 3-4 (AET)

The victorious Naomh Eanna squad. Evan Harper receiving the cup from P.J. Howlin, Co. P.R.O.
The victorious Naomh Eanna squad. Evan Harper receiving the cup from P.J. Howlin, Co. P.R.O.

Alan Aherne

Two well-matched teams served up a very exciting contest in poor weather conditions in St. Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy, on Wednesday before Naomh Eanna earned the right to represent Wexford in the All-Ireland Féile Peil in Connacht in June as the county's Division 1 champions.

A brave, battling Duffry Rovers side had forced extra-time with a superb last-gasp goal, and they showed admirable spirit once more after quickly falling six points in arrears when the action resumed.

Green flags on either side of the last interval restored parity (3-4 each) and left the outcome in the balance, but the vital breakthrough was made by Naomh Eanna when midfielder George Kavanagh's attempt at a point dropped into the net with two minutes left.

That proved the decisive score, even though the Duffry raided again and tried all in their might to grab another equaliser.

Robbie Chapman had a shot blocked for a '45 which was floated in by Pádraig Walters, with Dylan Purcell catching and turning but shooting narrowly wide.

And the latter duo combined once more in the dying seconds of added time, but the Gorey defence stood firm and a block on Purcell's shot ensured that yet more silverware would be winging its way to the honours-laden north county club.

Scores were in short supply in the first 20-minute half, with the numerous handling errors from both sides no doubt a combination of the bitterly cold evening plus the nerves that are a natural part of being involved in a final at this level.

James Lawless picked off the opening point for the Duffry before Dylan Purcell came close to goaling, while netminder Killian Hanrahan saved with his feet from Cillian Byrne when Naomh Eanna launched their first attack of note.

However, Byrne wasn't going to be denied a second time when he cleverly fisted a Cian Levingston delivery from the right to the net in the eighth minute, giving his side a 1-0 to 0-1 lead.

Dylan Purcell pulled back a point from a free, with Levingston getting the last score of the half before a brilliant Purcell pass found Jason Sheridan whose shot drifted right and wide of the posts.

Naomh Eanna had wind advantage for the second period, but they relied on two fine saves from netminder Reece Price in the early stages to preserve their lead as Brennan O'Neill and Michael Murphy went in search of goals.

Indeed, the Duffry did everything bar the most important thing of all - scoring - in that spell of dominance, with Jason Sheridan also unlucky to fire low and wide in a one-on-one before a superb tackle by Rúairí Martin robbed Robbie Chapman as he prepared to pull the trigger.

The siege was finally lifted with six minutes left when Cathal O'Brien pointed for Gorey, and they seemed to be in the driving seat when he widened their lead to four from a free after a foul on the influential Martin (1-3 to 0-2).

The Duffry, who lost Féile finals in Division 1 hurling and Division 2 football last year, dug deep to respond, with Dylan Purcell converting a free before their equalising goal arrived 16 seconds into added time.

It was a well-worked move, with Robbie Chapman and Shane Reddy involved before the diminutive but deadly Brian Roban - one of the most skilful players on the field - fired across goal from the right and into the far corner of the net (1-3 each).

Although Gorey faced the wind first once more in extra-time, they resumed full of intent and completely dominated the first seven minutes.

Cillian Byrne and Jack Nolan had goal chances before Rúairí Martin won the kick-out after Nolan's wide and fed Byrne who made it 2-3 to 1-3.

The Duffry were still reeling from that concession when Martin soloed through for another major, and he then picked out Cathal O'Brien who stretched the lead to 3-4 to 1-3.

The Enniscorthy District lads weren't prepared to surrender all the same, with free-taker Dylan Purcell picking off a point before James Lawless netted on the rebound after a Robbie Chapman attempt was cleared off the line just before half-time (3-4 to 2-4).

Still buoyed by that score, the Duffry drew level just 22 seconds after play resumed with a solo goal from the determined Chapman, and it was anyone's game at that stage.

After a wide apiece at either end, Cian Levingston handpassed to midfielder George Kavanagh whose high kick ended up in the net, and the celebrations could start for Gorey after a gripping contest four minutes later.

Naomh Eanna: Reece Price; Casey Travers-Devlin, Evan Harper (capt.), Alex Cousins; Tiernan Meyler, James Kenny, Dara Kelly; Rúairí Martin (1-0), George Kavanagh (1-0); Cian Levingston (0-1), Cathal O'Brien (0-3, 1 free), Robert Wall; Jack Nolan, Cillian Byrne (2-0), Matthew Ryan. Subs. - Luke Christie for Ryan (ET), also Stephen Dixon, Max Ryan, Tom Stokes, Conor Flynn, Lee Doyle, James O'Brien, Ciarán O'Brien, Scott Doran, Seán Traynor, John Connors, Conor Robinson, Ben Harrison.

Duffry Rovers: Killian Hanrahan; Seán O'Leary, Joey Earle, David Nolan; James McHugh, Shane Reddy, Ryan McCarthy; Pádraig Walters (capt.), Dylan Purcell (0-2 frees); Brian Roban (1-0), James Lawless (1-2, 0-1 free), Michael Murphy; Jason Sheridan, Robbie Chapman (1-0), Brennan O'Neill. Subs. - John Kavanagh for Sheridan (30), Conor McHugh for O'Neill (43), Sheridan for Murphy (43), also Mikey Quigley, William Wilson, Brian Murphy, Seán Redmond, Ray Barnes, Luke Jordan, Seán Murphy, Tomás Walsh, Cathal Power, Killian Walsh, Danny Fitzhenry, Charlie Smith, Seán Deegan.

Referee: Brendan Holohan (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown).

Gorey Guardian