St. Martin's 1-14 Ferns 1-10 (AET)
It may have taken extra-time, but in the end St. Martin's prevailed with an excellent four-point victory over a battling Ferns St. Aidan's outfit in this thrilling Wexford People Minor hurling Premier championship final in Bellefield on Saturday.
A scoring burst during the opening three minutes of extra-time eventually sealed the victory for the south county side as, up to then in had been practically impossible to separate two fine hurling outfits.
Level after 60 minutes, and still deadlocked at half-time in extra-time, the sides went on to share a point apiece but then up stepped Adam Cantwell with a vital point from midfield.
This was followed by a further long-range effort from the hugely impressive Jack Devereux, two scores that eventually proved sufficient to kill off the dogged Ferns challenge.
Both teams fought tooth and nail all through with little separating the sides at any stage, and really it was a result that could have gone either way through the opening 60 minutes.
Entering the final quarter St. Martin's were defending a three-point lead with Philip Dempsey, Ben Maddock, David Codd and Adam Cantwell superb in defence, while Michael Codd and Eoin O'Leary were pushing forward at every opportunity from midfield.
St. Martin's, with Jack Devereux and David Cantwell leading the way in attack, looked to have dug deep enough, leading by three points entering the final quarter, but there was still to be much drama.
Working their way back into the game through the persistent fine hurling of Conor Scallan, Rory Scallan and Kieran Murphy, Ferns showed unbelievable character.
Eight minutes from the end a Chris Turner goal had them dramatically in front by the minimum margin, but St. Martin's 'keeper Callum Quirke lofted over an 80-metre pointed free on 60 minutes to bring the sides level.
The drama was by no means over as, two minutes into additional time, Chris Turner saw a rising shot rebound back into play off the crossbar, thus ensuring the game went to extra-time.
The early stages of play saw scoring limited as both sets of players tried to come to terms with the heavy underfoot conditions. Both sides were creating chances but were finding difficulty in translating possession into scores, with St. Martin's leading by 0-2 to nil after eight minutes through points from Ben Stafford (free) and David Cantwell.
During this opening spell Chris Turner was wide with two attempts on goal, one from a free, before Ferns eventually opened their account through a 16th-minute Shane Breen 40-metre point, leaving the scoreline 0-2 to 0-1.
St. Martin's suffered a blow at the end of the opening quarter when they lost influential attacker and free-taker Ben Stafford with an injured shoulder. Jack Devereux, who assumed the mantle of placed balls, was wide with his initial attempt on goal, but still the sides went on to exchange points through Eoin O'Leary with a good run an finish, Jeff Tobin, Turner and Devereux (free) to leave them level (0-4 each) at the interval.
Within two minutes of the re-start a Turner pointed free had Ferns in front, but one minute later Jack Devereux powered home a superb ground shot to the opposite corner of the net, leaving St. Martin's two points clear (1-4 to 0-5).
A Turner point left the minimum separating the sides, but midfielder Michael Codd took the initiative by powering over two excellent points, one from a free, to leave his sides leading by 1-6 to 0-6 after 47 minutes.
But with Conor Scallan driving his side on, Ferns responded with a Chris Turner goal eight minutes from the end having cut in along the endline, and this after he had pointed a free one minute earlier, leaving his side dramatically in front by 1-7 to 1-6.
With the clock running down it took the cool Callum Quirke to power over a huge levelling point on 60 minutes, ensuring the game went to extra-time.
The sides were still deadlocked (1-9 each) at the end of the first ten-minute period. Eoin Murphy and Zac Firman exchanged opening points, and then it was the turn of the respective netminders, with James Lawlor pointing an 80-metre free off the sideline, before a similar effort from Quirke ensured the sides remained level (1-9 each) at the break.
Sixty seconds into the second period of extra-time, David Cantwell swung over a great point, but Ferns responded through a Turner 40-metre free off the sideline.
Then came the defining moments as in the second and third minutes, Adam Cantwell and Jack Devereux shot long-range points from midfield, and with Quirke and substitute Kyle Firman pointing long-range frees, St. Martin's prevailed after a most dramatic final to complete four titles in a row.
St. Martin's: Callum Quirke (0-3 frees); Shane Walsh, Philip Dempsey, Sam Audsley; David Codd, Ben Maddock, Adam Cantwell (0-1); Michael Codd (0-2, 1 free), Eoin O'Leary (0-1); Ben Stafford (0-1 free), Paddy Gallagher, David Cantwell (0-2); Conor Devereux, Jack Devereux (1-2, 0-1 free), Zac Firman (0-1). Subs. - Aaron Clancy for Stafford, inj. (15), Rory Cullen for Clancy (40), Liam O Lionáin for C. Devereux (56), Kyle Firman (0-1 free) for Gallagher (58), also Adam McLoughlin, Simon Curran, James Mernagh, Jordan Hayes, Conor Kelly, Adam Feery, Diarmuid Barry, Matthew Duffy.
Ferns St. Aidan's: James Lawlor; Brian O'Neill, Patrick O'Hagan, William Bolger; Rory Scallan, Conor Scallan, Kieran Murphy; Niall Murphy, Eoin Murphy (0-1); Lee Quigley, Jeff Tobin (0-1), Shane Breen (0-1); Shane Stafford, Chris Turner (1-6, 0-4 frees, 0-1 '65), Pádraig Kinsella. Subs. - Seb Rynhart for Kinsella (39), Patrick O'Toole for Stafford (40), also Evan Murphy, Eoghan Murphy, Liam Murphy, Michael O'Brien, Barry O'Toole, Bob Byrne, Steve Warren, Kevin Stafford, Byron Jordan, Barry Murphy.
Referee: John O'Loughlin (Monageer-Boolavogue).