Ferns St. Aidan's 2-21 Bannow-Ballymitty 2-16
Ferns St. Aidan's again conjured up a strong finish to finally shake off the stubborn attentions of Bannow-Ballymitty in a high-octane Junior hurling championship Group A match in Bree on Saturday.
A point from the impressive Mark Wallace drew the New Ross District side level at 2-15 apiece in the 49th minute, but Ferns rallied to outscore their opponents by six points to one in the remaining moments.
In a fast-paced encounter Ferns landed the first telling blow in the fifth minute, when the prolific Anthony Dwyer gathered a crossfield ball from Eoin Murphy and buried it beyond goalkeeper Kevin Doyle.
Bannow-Ballymitty weren't long about responding though, when Micheál Murphy floated in an effort from wide on the left which found its way to the far corner of the net.
The teams continued to go at it hammer and tongs with the industrious Nicky Doyle and Mark Wallace contributing nice points for Bannow-Ballymitty, and Edward Walsh, Ian Byrne, Anthony Dwyer and Paddy O'Leary keeping Ferns ticking over.
Leading by 1-7 to 1-6, Ferns St. Aidan's had a chance to give themselves a bit of breathing space when Edward Walsh was taken down for a penalty.
However, Ian Byrne's 26th-minute effort was brilliantly saved by Kevin Doyle, who dived full length to his right to get a stick on it.
Byrne did convert the resultant '65 though and just a minute later they did have the green flag waving. Paddy O'Leary picked out the run of Edward Walsh and he did the rest, blasting an unstoppable shot past Doyle, helping Ferns to a 2-8 to 1-9 half-time advantage.
Bannow-Ballymitty trailed by one point in the 39th minute, with David Currid knocking over a quick-fire double, but Ferns looked to have assumed control when they chalked up the next four scores, through Peter O'Toole (two), Edward Cullen and Paddy O'Leary.
The south county side needed something special and Micheál Murphy produced it, gathering possession on the left wing before bursting towards goal with real conviction and planting the ball past Niall Byrne.
Having been backed up against the ropes, Bannow-Ballymitty suddenly had a real spring in their step and points from Pat Fitzharris and Mark Wallace brought them back on level terms.
However, Ferns found extra reserves from somewhere and points from Pádraig Bolger, Derek Thorpe, Anthony Dwyer, Eoin Murphy (two) and Edward Walsh saw them home.
Ferns St. Aidan's: Niall Byrne; Paul Lancaster, Colm Whelan, Peter Nolan; Pádraig Bolger (0-1), Seán Walsh (0-1), Derek Thorpe (0-1); Peter O'Toole (0-2), Ian Byrne (0-3, 2 frees, 1 '65); Tomás Hawkins, Eoin Murphy (0-3), Edward Cullen (0-1); Anthony Dwyer (1-3), Edward Walsh (1-4), Paddy O'Leary (0-2). Subs. - Aaron Cahill for Byrne, Brian O'Neill for Cahill, Keith Breen for S. Walsh (temp.), Conor Jordan for Dwyer.
Bannow-Ballymitty: Kevin Doyle; Alan Barden, John O'Leary, Clem Rossiter; Conor Furlong, Arthur Sweetman, Pádraig McCormack; Niall Harney, Mark Wallace (0-8, 2 frees, 1 '65); Nicky Doyle (0-2), David Currid (0-3), Gary Morton; James McCormack, Pat Fitzharris (0-2, 1 free), Micheál Murphy (2-1). Subs. - David White for Barden, Art Murphy for J. McCormack, Donal McLoughlin for Morton, Mark Colfer for Wallace.
Referee: Martin Armstrong (Rapparees).