Kilanerin mark return with a resounding win
Kilanerin 2-14 Sarsfields 1-6
Kilanerin announced their return to the top flight with an emphatic win over last year's relegation final victors Sarsfields in this Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship Group A encounter in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.
The town team led by 0-5 to 0-3 at half-time after their rivals chose to face the breeze first, but there was only one side in contention on the re-start as the Leinster Intermediate title-holders ran riot.
Five unanswered points in the third quarter gave them the initiative, and they powered on to a most emphatic success on an evening when promising young guns Páuric Hughes and Seán Forde were blooded at this level.
Sarsfields only scored 1-1 in the second period, with the point from a free. And while that goal in the 56th minute did reduce the gap to three, it was cancelled immediately by an extremely soft green flag at the other end.
Kilanerin added another 1-2 to embellish their win and, while they will realise tougher tests lie ahead, this was nonetheless a most encouraging return after being relegated at the end of 2014.
Scoring 2-13 from play was impressive, with Conor Devitt contributing 1-4, but the real driving force was midfielder Niall Hughes who was unstoppable in this department from the off, crowning a fine personal display with a brace of second-half points.
Sarsfields never threatened a goal, as their attacking play was too slow and predictable to unlock a well-drilled defence.
Two points from veteran Philip Cullen in the eighth and tenth minutes were their first-half highlights as they established a 0-5 to 0-3 lead after a largely uneventful opening period, while David Gouldson also curled over a neat score from the right wing.
Bobby Hughes, Conor Devitt and Mark Gethings had kept Kilanerin in touch, and they never looked back once Hughes and Matty Forde brought them level by the 32nd minute.
Devitt, Forde (free), Niall Hughes and Devitt again gave the Gorey District side a 0-9 to 0-5 lead entering the last quarter before John Bridges responded.
However, the Kilanerin reaction was impressive as Niall Hughes split the posts from 45 metres after a surging run before Devitt and Seán Forde left them with a double scores advantage (12-6).
A potential lifeline arrived for Sarsfields in the 56th minute when Shane Hall kicked the ball into the square and substitute Ryan Furlong beat Tom Hughes to the punch for a badly-needed goal.
That positivity lasted a mere 45 seconds though, as Devitt hung a point attempt in the air at the town end. Netminder Eoin Healy lost the flight of the ball, and it bounced into the roof of the net to ensure Kilanerin got the win they deserved.
There was still time for points from Bobby Hughes and Matty Forde on either side of an easy goal for Dean O'Toole whose run from midfield wasn't tracked as he latched on to a handpass from his All Star uncle.
Kilanerin: Tom Hughes; Denis Jones, Aidan Jones, Rhys Owley; Páuric Hughes, Gavin O'Toole, Richard Hughes; Dean O'Toole (1-0), Niall Hughes (0-2); Mark Boland, Conor Devitt (1-4), Mark Gethings (0-1); Emmet O'Toole, Bobby Hughes (0-3), Matty Forde (0-3, 1 free). Sub. - Seán Forde (0-1) for R. Hughes (24).
Sarsfields: Eoin Healy; Tomás Campbell, Brendan Mulligan, Con O Donnagáin; Shane Hall, Michael Hanrahan (capt.), Colm Browne; Cathal Kirwan, David Mooney; Fiach O Crualaoich, David Gouldson (0-1), John Bridges (0-2, 1 free); Philip Cullen (0-2), Eoin Roche (0-1), Ciarán Kirwan. Subs. - Adam Dempsey for Mooney (43), Ryan Furlong (1-0) for O Crualaoich (48), Seán O Corcora for Gouldson (53).
Referee: Seán Whelan (St. Martin's).