Fine Fethard finish
Fethard 1-19 St. James' 2-11
That extra dash of experience and know-how that comes from being a Senior team stood to Fethard in sun-baked Cushinstown on Saturday when they hit the last seven points from the 50th minute onwards to shake off the persisent challenge of neighbours St. James' in the Foxe Cup New Ross District hurling final.
Their Ramsgrange rivals led by 2-6 to 0-8 at half-time and were still in the driving seat early in the last quarter (2-11 to 1-12), but it all went wrong for the Intermediate side down the home straight as the St. Mogue's men punished them for every indiscretion.
Mikie Dwyer, back to full fitness, was on fire for the winners at right corner-forward, and his sixth point from play kick-started their winning surge before Darren Foley levelled from a long-range free.
The lead point didn't arrive until the 59th minute when St. James' were left to rue some over-elaborate play coming out of defence as Daire Barden split the posts (1-15 to 2-11).
Eddie Power won the puck-out and fed Darren Foley for another score from distance, before late white flags from Graham O'Grady, Joe Sutton and Foley (free) left Fethard with a rather flattering five-point winning margin.
The men in red completed a Foxe Cup three-in-a-row in the process, having defeated Gusserane in the previous two finals, and, as the sole Senior hurling club in the District, they were understandable favourites.
Nonetheless, St. James' put it up to them throughout despite the obvious absence of Matthew O'Hanlon, and the first of their two goals was a real peach.
It arrived in the third minute when midfielder Robbie Barron latched on to Graeme Molloy's puck-out after free-taker Graham O'Grady had given Fethard the lead, soloing through before firing to the net directly off his hurl.
Fethard responded in impressive fashion as Mikie Dwyer (two) plus O'Grady (three more frees) reeled off five points on the trot, but St. James' then enjoyed a period of sustained dominance.
They struck 1-5 on the bounce between the 14th and 25th minutes to surge into a 2-5 to 0-6 lead, with Alan Walsh, Michael O'Grady (free), Donal Barron, O'Grady (play) and the impressive Kevin O'Grady posting points prior to that second goal.
Shane Murphy did all of the spadework before feeding Walsh close to the square, and he tucked the chance away from slightly to the left of the posts.
Although Garrett Foley and Mikie Dwyer settled Fethard with points, they still trailed by 2-6 to 0-8 at the break after Michael O'Grady (free) had the last word for their rivals.
The sides shared the first six points on the re-start, and that suited the leaders just fine as Kevin O'Grady claimed two before Robbie Barron left them 2-9 to 0-11 clear by the 44th minute.
Graham O'Grady, Joe Sutton and Mikie Dwyer, with a clever one-handed strike under pressure, had kept Fethard in touch, and the goal they really needed to apply strong pressure on the leaders arrived at the end of the third quarter.
Sutton cut in from the left corner and batted the ball beyond Graeme Molloy, making it a one-point game before Kevin O'Grady doubled the Jimmies' lead from a crossfield Mark Molloy pass.
Dwyer and Shane Murphy went on to swap points, but it was all Fethard from that point onwards as the losers didn't score again after the 49th minute.
Full credit is due to the New Ross District committee, and in particular their very active P.R.O. Paudie Foran, for ensuring their internal competitions - the Foxe, Kinsella and Murphy Cups plus the Hickey Shield - are kept to the forefront and receive ample publicity.
It would appear that several similar-type events in the other Districts are no longer played after most of the club championships went countywide, and that is a pity because several trophies in memory of renowned G.A.A. folk are unfortunately gathering dust as a result.
Fethard: Kieran Furlong; Martin Power, Rúairí Tubrid, Daniel Mullan; Richie Waters, Daire Barden (0-1), Brian Dillon; Garrett Foley (joint capt., 0-1), Graham O'Grady (joint capt., 0-6, 4 frees); Eddie Power, Joe Sutton (1-2), Chris Molloy; Mikie Dwyer (0-6), Darren Foley (0-3, 2 frees), Aran Murphy. Subs. - Seán Foley for Furlong (HT), Daniel Johnson for Murphy (39), Jesse Foley for Molloy (55).
St. James': Graeme Molloy; Joe Kehoe, Paul Barron, Brian Molloy; Owen Whitty, Liam Murphy (capt.), David Doyle; Robbie Barron (1-1), Mark Molloy; Donal Barron (0-1), Alan Walsh (1-1), Kevin O'Grady (0-4); Tommy Walsh, Shane Murphy (0-1), Michael O'Grady (0-3, 2 frees). Subs. - James Walsh for M. O'Grady (49), Jason O'Grady for Kehoe (53).
Referee: Brendan Holohan (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown).
New Ross Standard