Ward hat-trick stuns 14-man Curraha
There's drive-in bingo in Bective next Sunday, but it was Wolfe Tones who hit the jackpot this afternoon as they gained revenge for last year's SFC loss to Curraha with Fiachra Ward grabbing three goals to ensure a 4-11 to 0-12 victory this time around.
Such an outcome, nevermind an 11-point victory, looked very unlikely throughout the opening 10 minutes as James McEntee and David Toner lorded midfield, while Jack O'Connor looked unstoppable as he ran riot in attack.
However some minor restructuring strengthened Wolfe Tones' resolve around the middle and as they crowded the area on the edge of the D they cut off the space O'Connor had flourished in.
That renewed defensive resolve inspired a more potent attacking focus and with the Ward brothers causing problems it was Fiachra who reaped the reward with three poacher's goals of varying degrees of excellence.
The fact that Curraha played the last 25 minutes, plus another six of injury-time, with just 14 men following the sending off of James McEntee didn't really have an impact on the outcome.
O'Connor's early excellence almost led to a goal for Curraha inside 20 seconds as he cut through the heart of the Wolfe Tones defence before firing over. Seconds later David Coyle doubled the lead and by the fourth minute Curraha were 0-3 to 0-0 ahead as O'Connor landed a free.
O'Connor added another free before Wolfe Tones finally got off the mark through Thomas O'Reilly in the 10th minute, but it was still all Curraha at that stage as McEntee clipped over a fine score.
Cian Ward settled Wolfe Tones with a fierce shot from distance that clipped the crossbar on the way over and in the 14th minute O'Reilly made it 0-3 to 0-5 with an effort that did look to have inched wide.
Seconds later Fiachra Ward buried his first goal brilliantly to give his side an unlikely lead, but they continued to push on with Cian Ward landing a 50-metre free before Liam Hogan pulled off a spectacular stop to deny O Fionnagain.
Hogan could do nothing to prevent the second goal in the 24th minute when he did well to parry Fiachra Ward's initial palmed effort, but the corner-forward pounced on the loose ball and finished to make it 2-4 to 0-5.
O'Connor replied with a free for Curraha, but Wolfe Tones were in command as O'Reilly (free) and McEntee traded points to leave the Tones with a 2-5 to 0-7 interval advantage.
Within 40 seconds of the restart Cian Ward's shot from distance hit the post and fell kindly to his brother Fiachra who scrambled it to the net for his hat-trick.
David Toner replied with a point almost immediately, but by the 34th minute it was game over when Dan O'Neill blasted a brilliant goal to make it 4-5 to 0-8.
Padraig O'Hanrahan did manage a point for Curraha before McEntee picked up a second yellow card following a clash with Alan Callaghan and while a Curraha comeback didn't look likely beforehand, it was now impossible.
Eanna O'Kelly-Lynch, Niall O'Reilly, with a mesmerising chip that clipped the crossbar on the way over, Fiachra Ward and O Fionnagain, from a mark, all added to Wolfe Tones' tally to extend their lead to 4-9 to 0-9 by the second water break.
Oisin Martin put 13 points between the sides with five minutes remaining and while Curraha did manage three of the last four scores, all from O'Connor (two frees), it was Wolfe Tones who eased to victory with O'Reilly adding to their tally from a free.
Wolfe Tones - Fiachra Ward 3-1; Thomas O'Reilly 0-4 two frees; Dan O'Neill 1-0; Cian Ward 0-2 one free; Eanna O'Kelly-Lynch 0-1; Niall O'Reilly 0-1; Saran O Fionnagain 0-1 mark; Oisin Martin 0-1.
Curraha - Jack O'Connor 0-7 five frees; James McEntee 0-2; David Coyle 0-1; David Toner 0-1; Padraig O'Hanrahan 0-1.
Wolfe Tones - Oisin Corrigan; Brughach O Fionnagain, Robert White, Conor Sheppard; Dan O'Neill, Shane Glynn, Eanna O'Kelly-Lynch; Alan Callaghan, Niall O'Reilly; Stephen Sheppard, Cian Ward, Oisin Martin; Saran O Fionnagain, Thomas O'Reilly, Fiachra Ward. Sub - Thomas Blaney for S O Fionnagain 60 mins.
Curraha - Liam Hogan; Oisin Fay, Mark Jackson, Seamus Hogan; Neil Shotall, Niall Murphy, Conor O'Farrell; James McEntee, David Toner; Padraig O'Hanrahan, Jack O'Connor, Brian Joyce; Sean Keogh, David Coyle, Diarmuid Moriarty. Subs - Andrew Moriarty forJackson 30 mins, Andrew Battersby for O'Farrell half-time, Gavin Coyle for D Coyle 46m, Niall McLarnon for Shortall 56m, Ian Battersby for Joyce 58m.
Referee - Padraig Coyle (Seneschalstown).