Wednesday 16 October 2019

Shels make very tame exit

AIB Leinster Club Senior football championship first round: St Peter's (Meath) 1-12 Shelmaliers 1-2

Páraic O’Leary of Shelmaliers (wearing their change strip) is challenged by Dunboyne’s Jack Donnelly
Páraic O’Leary of Shelmaliers (wearing their change strip) is challenged by Dunboyne’s Jack Donnelly

Brian Carty in Innovate Wexford Park

Shelmaliers' maiden sojourn in the AIB Leinster Club Senior football championship fell at the first hurdle when they suffered a rather flat 1-12 to 1-2 defeat at the hands of Meath champions St. Peter's (Dunboyne) in Sunday underwhelming round one tie in Innovate Wexford Park.

After hardly putting a foot wrong in dismantling Kilanerin on the way to their first-ever Senior crown at the same venue a week earlier, there was a noticeable drop-off in precision and ruthlessness this time around, as it seemed they were suffering from the hangover effects of creating their own piece of history.

Then again, anyone with any knowledge of Wexford's record in this particular competition in modern times shouldn't be overly surprised that Shelmaliers fell short, as the wait now extends to 14 years and counting since the last time any representative won in the province - when Starlights beat Rathvilly of Carlow by 2-5 to 0-7 after a replay in 2004.

In fact, in the last ten editions, the average deficit at the end has been just over 11.5 points, with four of the defeats since 2013 reaching double figures.

Dunboyne entered the game having bridged a 13-year gap since their last county title, and started in confident fashion through an early brace from county player Donal Lenihan, whose brother, Darragh, is a current Republic of Ireland soccer international.

His first arrived after only 40 seconds after a quick transition up the field following an over-carrying call on Eoin Doyle, while another Shelmaliers mistake was also swiftly punished by a Lenihan point on three minutes.

He also registered the first of Dunboyne's six wides on seven minutes, but their backs were certainly on top early doors as Shelmaliers failed to replicate the quick attacking play that saw them swat away all challengers in Wexford.

That said, they did get on the scoreboard on ten minutes when an interception from the typically prominent Simon Donohoe teed up Doyle to jink in and kick a fine opener, but they failed to score again until first-half injury time as instead St. Peter's prospered.

Stuart Lowndes, a brother of Dublin player Eric, pointed from Lenihan's assist on eleven minutes, while some sturdy defending from Cian O'Dwyer allowed Robert McCarthy to swing over soon after.

The latter also supplied Lowndes to confidently split the posts on 19 minutes, while McCarthy chipped over to make it 0-6 to 0-1 after Gavin McCoy won the break from a kick-out.

Michael Dunne then pinged a pinpoint pass into Lenihan, whose low shot was excellently saved by the legs of Graham Lawler-Ryan, although McCarthy pointed on the follow up.

Nothing was going right for Shelmaliers at the other end either as A.J. Lehane (twice) and Eoghan Nolan kicked poor wides before Shane McEntee got forward to make it 0-8 to 0-1 after 25 minutes.

Fan favourite Dunne stretched the gap further with a popular score, while McCarthy had all the time in the world to score his fourth point of the half.

However, Shelmaliers gained a fillip in injury time when James Cash made a lot of ground and was bundled over near goal but quickly off-loaded to Ross Banville, and the teenager calmly picked his spot at the town end for his second goal in as many games as the interval gap stood at 0-10 to 1-1.

The second-half resumed with early wides from Nolan and Glen Malone and a yellow card for Dunne, while Dan Campbell was red-carded on the recommendation of an umpire.

No score whatsoever was forthcoming until Dunboyne captain Cathal Finn advanced to point off his right boot on 48 minutes, and they wrapped up a quarter-final meeting with the Dublin champions when substitute Shane Comiskey supplied fellow replacement Cathal Lacey for a low finish to the net.

It's the third win for a Meath club against Wexford opposition in the last decade, with Skyrne narrowly beating Castletown in 2010 and Simonstown Gaels defeating Starlights last year.

Shemaliers: Graham Lawler-Ryan; Dan Campbell, James Cash, Ciarán O'Shaughnessy; Simon Donohoe, Brian Malone (0-1), Jody Donohoe; Aidan Cash, Glen Malone; Eoghan Nolan, Eoin Doyle (capt., 0-1), Ross Banville (1-0); Conor Hearne, Craig McCabe, A.J. Lehane. Subs. - Páraic O'Leary for Lehane (HT), Tommy Barron for Hearne (40), Cian Manley for J. Donohoe, black card (48), Liam Rockett for McCabe (49), Brian Murphy for Banville (57).

St. Peter's (Dunboyne): Cian Flynn; Gavin McCoy, Cian O'Dwyer, Jack Scannell; Cathal Finn (capt., 0-1), Craig Lowndes, Shane McEntee (0-1); Seamus Lavin, Jack Donnelly; Niall Jones, Stuart Lowndes (0-2), Conor Doran; Robert McCarthy (0-4), Donal Lenihan (0-3, 1 free), Michael Dunne (0-1). Subs. - Shane Comiskey for Dunne (39), Cathal Lacey (1-0) for Doran (40), Liam Byrne for Jones (51), Seán Ryan for Scannell (51), Steven Moran for McCarthy (58), Michael Murphy for S. Lowndes (58).

Referee: Barry Tiernan (Dublin).

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