SHELMALIERS 5-26 ST. MARTIN’S 3-20
A LATE Shelmaliers burst propelled the hosts past a gutsy St. Martin’s to claim the Panda Under-19 hurling Premier shield in Hollymount on Wednesday.
While the victors will be delighted by their success, the real joy of this game was the non-stop attacking, the exhibition of sensational score-taking, and the refusal by both sides to alter from the man-on-man approach.
There were headliners, namly Luke Roche for Shelmaliers and Rory Devereux for St. Martin’s, who combined for 1-30, 14 points of which came from play.
The Shels man edged the personal battle by a point but his opponent only took over free-taking responsibilities at the end of the first-half, so both were outstanding.
This kind of game can tell you plenty about the character of your charges. Defences were under the cosh but not one lad downed tools; every score had to be worked for and the fact that 54 were registered makes it even more remarkable that it was such a hotly-contested decider.
Just a goal separated the sides at the interval with the hosts on top by 1-11 to 0-11. It had been nip and tuck the whole way through but St. Martin’s led just once, when Joe Mernagh put them 0-7 to 0-6 up after 14 minutes.
Otherwise Shelmaliers generally had the slight edge, with the goal coming three minutes before the interval when Cathal Harding dispatched low past Christopher Ryan.
Zach Breslin responded early in the second-half for St. Martin’s, only for Aaron Kinsella to net and give the Shels some breathing space (2-15 to 1-12).
Back came the Piercestown-based club, as Mernagh goaled and with Roche and Devereux exchanging points the game remained right in the melting pot with eight minutes left (2-21 to 2-19).
Then, from two points ahead, the Shels accelerated and won the game. Cian Doyle raised one green flag, Harding added his second major, and substitute Joe O’Leary fired home to make it 5-23 to 2-19 in the 56th minute.
St. Martin’s did get a get a late Devereux goal from a free, probably the most satisfying strike of a ball all night, into the top left corner, millimetres from bar and post, but it didn’t deny the Shelmaliers’ satisfaction as they took the shield with a little to spare.
Shelmaliers: John Sunderland; Seán Cullen, Jack Kelly, Ronan Furlong; Evan Gillen, Robbie Delaney (0-1), Adam Murphy; Cian Doyle (capt., 1-2), Shane Kelly (0-1); Niall Power, Luke Roche (0-17, 9 frees), Jack O’Leary (0-1); Aaron Kinsella (1-0), Cathal Harding (2-2), Ryan Kielthy (0-1). Subs. - Jamie Doyle for Power (37), Joe Coone (0-1) for Murphy (37), Joe O’Leary (1-0) for Kielthy (45), Colm Kelly for Jack O’Leary (57), Eoin Howlin for Furlong (59), also Seán Denton, Conor Martin, Joshua Roche.
St. Martin’s: Christopher Ryan; Reuben Lafferty, Josh Whitty, Leo Barry; Alex Lafferty, Eoin Ormonde (capt.), Nathan Roche; Brian Codd, Alfie Jeffares; Mark Hennessy (0-3), Rory Devereux (1-13, 1-6 frees, 0-1 ’65), Zach Breslin (1-1); Oisín Kavanagh, Joe Mernagh (1-1), Eric O’Gorman (0-2 frees). Subs. - Conn Mernagh for O’Gorman (31), Eoin Sinnott for Kavanagh (47), Tommy Connick for Hennessy (58), Conor Mullen for A. Lafferty (60+1), Kevin Reck for Roche (60+1), also Luke Whitty.
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Blackwater).