Group A: Rapparees 2-17 Faythe Harriers 1-14
Rapparees ensured their safe passage to the quarter-finals of the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship with a fully-merited six-point win over Faythe Harriers in a Group A clash that never really got off the ground in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.
The strong wind blowing towards the town end was a spoilsport, with most of the drama reserved for a row in the tunnel as the teams made their way to the dressing-rooms at half-time.
The Rapps led by 1-9 to 1-4 at that stage, having recovered from a slow start after getting first use of the elements.
The Harriers matched them step-by-step early on, and actually hit the front (1-2 to 0-2) in the ninth minute when young attacker Glen Murphy-Butler finished to the net after a driving run by Lee Chin.
However, the fact that the teenager was their sole forward to score from play - adding a second-half point - highlighted the problem area of the field for the losers, who were unfortunate to lose captain and centre-back Colm Heffernan early on with an injury.
They did feel aggrieved by the circumstances leading up to the first Rapparees goal in the 17th minute, because referee David O'Leary penalised netminder James Henebery when he felt he was delaying a puck-out.
Kevin Foley gathered possession with ease from the throw-in on the 20-metre line and arrowed the ball to the net, pushing his side into a lead (1-3 to 1-2) that they never lost thereafter.
They hit six of the next eight points, with wing-back Jack Kelly rifling over three from play, and they did well to overcome his absence for the second-half as a result of a leg injury.
Darragh Pepper also looked lively, popping over a trio too, and in the second-half it was the turn of Lenny Connolly who matched that scoring feat.
The argument at the break didn't improve the standard of the hurling, with fewer chances falling to the Rapps against the wind, although they were very economical.
Indeed, they didn't hit any wides after the interval while adding 1-8 to their haul, although an early Tomás Mahon penalty after a foul on Oran Carty only yielded a point.
While Lee Chin hit one monster point from a free on the left in his own half, his radar wasn't at its best in the second period as he posted five of his side's seven wides, including three from placed balls.
The best the Harriers managed was to bring the margin down to three points (1-14 to 1-11) with ten minutes left, but the Rapps responded with scores from Ryan Mahon and Lenny Connolly and, in truth, always appeared comfortable.
Still, they had to wait until added time for their insurance goal, finished by Mahon after a wayward pull into his path from a rival defender. The Harriers' day was summed up with the second-last puck when Chin drove a penalty over the bar after he was fouled near the endline.
Now they must beat Ferns, and hope that the Rapps see off St. Anne's, in order to qualify. A loss, coupled with a Fethard win against St. Martin's, would leave them in the relegation final, so a very tense and tight last round of matches lie in store.
Rapparees: Anthony Larkin; Ben Edwards, Liam Ryan (0-1), Mel Doyle; James Peare, Ricky Fox, Jack Kelly (0-3); Kevin Foley (capt., 1-2), Lenny Connolly (0-3); Kevin Ryan, Ryan Mahon (1-1), Tomás Mahon (0-3, 2 frees, 1 pen.); Darragh Pepper (0-3), Alan Tobin, Oran Carty (0-1). Subs. - Eamonn Furlong for K. Ryan (26), Brian Ronan for Kelly, inj. (HT), Neil McCrea for Carty (60+1).
Faythe Harriers: James Henebery; Danny Walsh, Brendan Mulligan (0-1), Alex Lynch; Cormac Byrne (0-1), Colm Heffernan (capt.), Wayne Mallon (0-1); Jim Berry (0-1), Lee Chin (0-9, 4 frees, 2 '65s, 1 pen.); John Bridges, Michael Hanrahan, Eoin Roche; Pádraigh Farrell, Paul Murphy, Glen Murphy-Butler (1-1). Subs. - Ciarán Kirwan for Heffernan, inj. (5), Dean Walsh for Murphy-Butler (58).
Referee: David O'Leary (Rathnure)