Shels stay on course
SHELMALIERS CONTINUED to show their superiority over Starlights in the Jim Byrne Cup Minor football competition as, after beating them in the last three finals, they came out on top again in Sunday's semi-final at Bellfield, thus paving the way for a meeting with Fethard in the decider at Clongeen on February 17.
While the Enniscorthy boys put up a tough battle, the overall superiority of an Over The Water side that was without a couple of regulars won through deservedly in the end. Starlights with the stiff breeze behind them in the opening half got the tonic of an eighth-minute goal when Conor Farrell raced in to punch the ball to the net following a long solo run by the lively Kevin Foley.
The Shels responded positively when Daniel Murphy and Simon Donohoe kicked over a point each as the ball was moved swiftly up and down the pitch.
Kevin Foley accounted for Starlights' first point in the 20th minute but they were dealt a body blow soon afterwards from which they never really recovered.
Shelmaliers brought the ball forward towards their target with some magnificent combined play involving Colin Cleary and Stephen McGuire amongst others, until it was eventually crossed over to Jody Donohoe who had the relatively more simple task of foot-tapping to the net.
The towering Liam Ryan kicked over an excellent long-range point for Starlights followed by two from the boot of Leonard Connolly that put the home team 1-4 to 1-2 ahead at the break, but this was adjudged by many to be inadequate considering the wind strength.
Those predictions proved true, as the home team failed to score for the first 18 minutes of the second-half while the Shels forged six points ahead during that time.
A Stephen McGuire point just after the resumption of play was followed by the lead goal when the quick-thinking Colin Cleary, having been fouled himself, dispatched the ball from the free immediately to the inrushing Jody Donohoe whose rasping kick to the net was unstoppable.
Stephen McGuire and Daniel Murphy added the points that put the holders 2-7 to 1-4 ahead with 15 minutes left.
To their credit Starlights put in a storming finish that brought them to within two points of the winners with three minutes to go.
Leonard Connolly from a free and Darragh Pepper from play closed the gap with a point each, and when Seán Cloherty was dragged down as he forced his way through, Ryan Mahon goaled the resultant penalty to leave just two points between them (2-8 to 2-6) as the game entered injury time.
The most skilful player on view, Colin Cleary ,concluded the scoring with the final point under pressure for a Shels team which deserved to win but were mighty relieved to hear the final whistle.
Shelmaliers: Aodhán Foley, Glen Malone, John Forde, Aaron Murphy, Simon Donohoe (0-1), Niall Cash, Eoghan Nolan, Graham Staples, Jody Donohoe (2-1), Daniel Murphy (0-2), Shane Carter, Stephen McGuire (0-3, 2 frees), Colin Cleary (0-2). Subs. - Stephen Carr, Enda Cloake, Cian Manley, Brian Kehoe, Jack Donohoe, Ryan Donnelly, Aaron Hearne.
Starlights: Dylan Cloke, Seán Cloherty, Ben Edwards, Dale Kirwan, Daniel O'Brien, Aaron Sinnott, Liam Ryan (0-1), Conor Farrell (1-0), Ryan Mahon (1-0 pen.), Kevin Foley (0-1 free), Leonard Connolly (0-3, 2 frees), Jack Hanley, Darragh Pepper (0-1). Subs. - Declan Courtney, Nicky Doyle, Kyle Foley, Kieran Cronin, Seán McGrath, Jack Conroy.
Referee: Seán Whelan (St. Martin's).
New Ross Standard