Doyle's late free shares the spoils
SHC Group B in Monamolin: Naomh Eanna 2-11 Shelmaliers 0-17
With both sides already certain of a quarter-final berth in the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship, and with neither at full strength, a close game was always guaranteed when Naomh Eanna and Shelmaliers locked horns at Monamolin on Saturday, and so it transpired as a late free from Pádraig Doyle secured a 2-11 to 0-17 draw for the reigning champions in the final round of Group B games.
However, Gorey will be disappointed not to have grabbed the win considering they had led by 2-9 to 0-14 when James Cash was red-carded on 47 minutes.
Even more concerning for the titleholders, though, is their lack of scores from play in a forward unit minus the services of Conor McDonald, as the starting sextet only combined for 1-2 over the hour.
In contrast, all six of the Shelmaliers attackers registered at least once from play, and credit must go to the Over The Water men for preserving their unbeaten record despite that numerical disparity and the fact that they were already missing Brian Malone through suspension, while Ross Banville only saw fleeting action.
Gorey got off to a strong start, with Pádraig Doyle converting a free after his brother, Aodhán, was fouled immediately after the throw-in, and Cathal Dunbar stitching the net with a low finish after haring away in the left corner.
Jody Donohoe landed Shelmaliers' opener from distance, Ciarán O'Shaughnessy also split the posts from long-range, while three from Benny Barron (two frees) brought the score to 1-3 to 0-6 by the 20th minute.
However, Naomh Eanna broke through for a scruffy goal in their next attack when David O'Brien and Gary Molloy interchanged before feeding Darragh Hughes, and although the big full-forward dropped the ball before he even had time to size up a shot, Molloy prodded to the net with an instinctive ground stroke.
Shelmaliers responded with the next three scores to remain in touch, with Conor Walsh flighting over their third long-ranger of the half, but captain Brendan Travers' shot from all of one hundred metres just about cleared the crossbar for a Gorey point as his side broke holding a slender 2-5 to 0-9 advantage.
Dunbar crisply struck over a trademark sideline cut on 40 minutes to keep the gap at two points (2-8 to 0-12), with Barron knocking over a free in response.
Hughes and Eoin Doyle swapped scores from play, and Gorey looked in a commanding position when Cash received his marching orders after an off-the-ball incident.
But they failed to score from play again as Shelmaliers galvanised themselves with three on the bounce through O'Shaughnessy, Jody Donohoe and Barron (free) to build their first lead with five minutes remaining.
Dunbar repeated his artistry with another sideline cut from a similar position, while Doyle's free on 59 minutes means that Naomh Eanna enter the dangerous waters of the quarter-finals with three wins and a draw from five games.
Shelmaliers top Group B, and they are the only unbeaten Senior team across both six-team sectors so far.
Naomh Eanna: Barry Kinsella; Eoin Molloy, Brendan Travers (capt., 0-1), Peter Travers; Jack Cullen (0-1), Seán Doyle, Eoin Conroy; Aodhán Doyle, Gary Molloy (1-0); Jack Cushe, Pádraig Doyle (0-5 frees), Charlie McGuckin; David O'Brien (0-1), Darragh Hughes (0-1), Cathal Dunbar (1-2, 0-2 line balls). Subs. - Conor Hughes for Cushe (48), Tom Stafford for P. Travers (50).
Shelmaliers: Brian Murphy; Ciarán Walsh, Simon Donohoe (capt.), Andre O'Brien; Conor Walsh (0-1), Glen Malone, Eoin Doyle (0-1); Aaron Murphy, Ciarán O'Shaughnessy (0-2); James Cash (0-1), Benny Barron (0-7, 6 frees), Jody Donohoe (0-2); Conor Hearne (0-1), Seán Keane-Carroll (0-1), Eoghan Nolan (0-1). Subs. - Willie O'Shaughnessy for Hearne (54), Ross Banville for J. Donohoe (60).
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Blackwater).