Fintan's pay penalty
ST. FINTAN'S paid a heavy penalty for early indiscipline as pace-setters Castletown made it three wins from three outings in this Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship Group B game in Bellefield on Sunday last.
Former county goalkeeper Anthony Masterson converted two spot kicks for the favourites in the eighth and twelfth minutes, and the outcome was never in doubt thereafter even though last year's Intermediate winners did pose some problems during the third quarter.
Jody O'Shaughnessy was hauled down for both penalties, with the first being of the needless variety as the ball had broken away from the corner-forward and Jim Rossiter who collected a yellow card for his trip. Masterson fired his kick low to Patrick McDonnell's right and Castletown moved into a 1-1 to 0-2 lead they were never to lose, after St. Fintan's had led twice early on thanks to points from a Donal Shanley free and former Laois regular Barry Brennan.
Brendan Halpin added a pointed free for the north county side before a Danny Gardiner handpass split the Fintan's defence wide open. Adrian Murphy was black-carded for deliberately pulling down O'Shaughnessy and Masterson duly drilled his second penalty straight down the middle (2-2 to 0-2).
St. Fintan's didn't score for 27 minutes before substitute Tomás Power set up Shanley in first-half added time (2-6 to 0-3), and by that stage they had also lost midfielder Pádraig Doyle to another black card.
Castletown had been coasting after points from Andy Merrigan, Anthony Masterson and the accurate Brendan Halpin (two, one free), but they got sloppy in the first 25 minutes of the second-half and were outscored by five points to two.
While the Wexford District men never fashioned a clearcut goal chance, they still would have been closer than 2-8 to 0-8 behind entering the closing stages but for some poor shooting which yielded eight wides in all after the break.
Castletown had lost county player Conor Carty to an injury to his right knee early in the new half, and this came as an additional blow given that attacker Gavin Stamp was already missing with a wrist problem.
They did get back into their stride in the last four minutes plus added time though as Halpin (two) and Masterson (three, one '45) kicked unanswered points to round off a good afternoon.
However, it was hard to comprehend the thinking behind introducing a Junior player, Danny Dixon, in the last minute of added time and thereby ending his involvement at that level for the sake of a few seconds when he didn't touch the ball.
On a more positive note, a notable feature for the winners was the superb handling of high balls in the first-half by returning goalkeeper Richard Farrell who missed the first two rounds when James Flood was an able replacement.