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Wednesday 19 September 2018

Rapps book place in last eight with third success

Pettitt's Senior Hurling Championship Group A: Rapparees 1-25 St. Anne's 1-21

Liam Rochford of St. Anne’s in a race for the ball with Ricky Fox (Rapparees)
Liam Rochford of St. Anne’s in a race for the ball with Ricky Fox (Rapparees)

Dean Goodison in Innovate Wexford Park

Rapparees clinched a quarter-final spot in the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship but were made to fight all the way to the final whistle by a plucky St. Anne's in Innovate Wexford Park on Monday of last week.

The Enniscorthy side looked to be coasting to victory when building a 1-17 to 0-9 lead with the light breeze in the opening half of this Group A tie, but their opponents managed to drag themselves back to within four points in added-time to set up a nervy few moments for the victors.

It would have been more than a little harsh had the Rapps let this one slip. Overall they were the better side in a fine game of hurling. People often remember the closer games as the classics throughout the season, but this was still excellent Bank Holiday fare.

The set-up of both sides lended itself to an open, attractive game of hurling. It was man-on-man stuff, two clubs playing with the belief that they had the better match-ups, the little advantages you need to come out on top, and the game was the better for it.

It was nip and tuck for the first eleven minutes as the sides felt each other out. In the absence of Liam Óg McGovern, there was more pressure on the shoulders of Diarmuid O'Keeffe and he registered a typically classy score to make it 0-4 each.

While the scoring rate continued at a similar pace for the Rathangan side, Rapparees started registering at a much quicker clip. In the final 17 minutes of the half they amassed 1-13 to build an eleven-point lead at the break.

Kevin Foley lit up that spell with two almost-identical points, both coming after St. Anne's picked him out from their own puck-outs. The goal came just before the break when Ryan Mahon sprinted onto a Kevin Ryan handpass and thumped it high to the net on the run.

Despite 1-4 from Mark Furlong dead-balls - including a penalty after Jonathan Fogarty was upended by Ricky Fox - St. Anne's still trailed by 1-22 to 1-12 with the end of the third quarter approaching.

The blistering pace they set seemed to get to the Bellefield side as the half wore on and St. Anne's started to pick holes in their defences. The deficit was down to six when Fogarty tapped over with twelve minutes remaining (1-23 to 1-17).

St. Anne's got within four for the first time in the half when Liam Óg McGovern flashed narrowly over the crossbar in the 59th minute. However, his side couldn't make it a one-score game as Rapparees defended superbly through five added minutes to take the spoils.

While the Rapparees have made their way into the quarter-finals and will be a force to be reckoned with, St. Anne's have shown enough so far to suggest they could spring a surprise somewhere along the line. However, they face Shelmaliers next and a loss in that fixture will leave them in limbo with a round to go.

Rapparees: Eamonn Furlong; Dillon Redmond, Liam Ryan, Tom Wall; James Peare, Ricky Fox, Jack Kelly (0-1); Kevin Foley (0-4), Lenny Connolly (0-3); Kevin Ryan (0-4), Ryan Mahon (1-2), Nick Doyle (0-1); Alan Tobin, Tomás Mahon (0-10, 9 frees, 1 '65), Anthony Roche. Subs. - Darragh Pepper for Connolly (47), Mel Doyle for Kelly (59).

St. Anne's: Paul Brennan; Páraic O'Keeffe, Tomás Cullen, Kenny Cloney; Kevin Whelan, Aidan Rochford (0-1), Seamus Mythen; Mark Furlong (1-11, 0-10 frees, 1-0 pen.), Diarmuid O'Keeffe (0-2); Mikey Fogarty, Liam Rochford (0-2), Jonathan Fogarty (0-1); Jess Codd (0-1 free), Redmond Barry, Andy Kennedy (0-1). Subs. - David O'Connor (0-1) for Codd (31), Liam Óg McGovern (0-1) for Kennedy (55), Shane Mythen for Whelan (57), Codd for O'Connor (60+2).

Referee: Gearóid McGrath (St. James').

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