Shelmaliers, the reigning Pettitt's Senior hurling champions, are still on track to defend their title after securing a place in the quarter-finals with a comfortable eleven-point win over Faythe Harriers in their fourth round Group B tie at Innovate Wexford Park on Friday.
The result leaves the Harriers on four points and they will have to beat point-less Shamrocks in their final group game to ensure progress.
This game doubled up as the All-County Hurling League Division 1 final. Captain and main marksman, Joe Kelly, accepted the trophy after the game from Co. Chairman, Diarmuid Devereux.
Ironically, it was the fine Pat Murphy Cup, donated in honour of the late long-serving Faythe Harriers stalwart. His brothers, Dick and Kevin, joined in the presentation.
The game was not a thriller by any means and both sides will need to produce much better if they aim to be serious contenders. Most of the good hurling came from the Shelmaliers and they were fully deserving winners.
Captain Kelly led from the front, scoring twelve points (three from play), showing admirable accuracy from all parts of the ground.
The Harriers cause was not helped by the 20th minute sending-off of Richie Kehoe on a straight red card. There was little dispute about James Owens' decision as James Cash of Shelmaliers was caught by a high pull; there did not seem to be any malicious intent but it was certainly reckless.
At that stage the Shelmaliers, despite having to line out without Stephen Banville in a much re-jigged team, already led by 1-7 to 0-3; they got off to a bright start and sprayed the ball about quite well, with Kelly being deadly accurate, lofting over the first six points, while Brian Doyle chipped in with the other one. The Harriers points came from a Jim Berry free, Alan Lynch and a hard-trying Lee Chin.
The goal came in the eleventh minute when a sweeping passing movement found Páraic O'Leary 20 yards in front of goal and he gave 'Archie' Scallan no chance.
The Harriers enjoyed their best spell in the ten minutes to half-time after being reduced to 14 men. They outscored the Shels by 0-3 to 0-1 in that period, John Bridges getting two from play and Jim Berry knocking over a free, to make it 1-8 to 0-6 at the break.
The Shelmaliers dominated most of the second-half but the standard was very average as they outscored the Harriers by nine points to three. Kelly hit over five more frees and the others came from Páraic O'Leary, Benny Barron and the final two good efforts from Ciarán O'Shaughnessy, who finished with a bit of a flourish.
The town side got just one second-half point from play (John Bridges again), but they could have been a bit closer had they not concentrated on going for goals from quite early on in the half. Substitute Rhys Clarke went low from two close-in frees, one after Lee Chin was brought down when trying to burst through, and two '65s were lobbed in - none of them produced a score.
Shelmaliers: Brian Murphy; Andre O'Brien, Aidan Murphy, Aaron Murphy; Conor Walsh, James Gordon, Aidan Cash; Eoin Doyle, Brian Doyle (0-1); Simon Donohoe, Brian Malone, Páraic O'Leary (1-1); Joe Kelly (capt., 0-12, 9 frees), Ciarán O'Shaughnessy (0-2), James Cash. Sub. - Benny Barron (0-1) for B. Doyle (HT).
Faythe Harriers: Ian Scallan; Brendan Mulligan, David Mooney, Ross Lynch; Emmet Keeling (capt.), Richie Kehoe, Mikey Hanrahan; Jim Berry (0-3 frees), Alan Lynch (0-1); John Bridges (0-3), Lee Chin (0-1), Nicky Lawlor; Shane Howard, Pádraigh Farrell, Barry Goff. Subs. - Rhys Clarke (0-1 free) for Howard (HT), Con O Donnagáin for Farrell (51).
Referee: James Owens (Askamore).