Shels heartbreakingly lost their second juvenile title in a week today in Wexford Park, 2-16 to 1-14. Playing with heart and determination Shels were denied on at least 5 occasions by the Martins goalkeeper
The patrons in Wexford Park last Saturday morning witnessed a thrilling Premier Juvenile Hurling Final played in exemplary fashion with St.Martins proving just too good for their great Wexford district rivals Shelmaliers winning by 2-16 to 1-14.
While ultimately five points separated the sides at the finish it was a combination of bad luck around the goal and the clinical finish of the St Martin’s forwards that won the day for the Piercestown brigade.
Kevin O’Connor and Simon “Dooley” Donohoe pointed the Shels into an early lead but from the moment that Sean Stafford scored a goal from a penalty for St Martins in the 9th minute the Piercestown boys were never headed despite the best efforts from a spirited Shelmaliers fifteen.
Stafford’s goal gave St Martins a 1-1- to 0-3 lead. There was some great defensive work in the opening half from the Shels, Glenn Malone made a couple of majestic catches and Gavin Potter was figuring prominently.
In a game of ebbing fortunes both sides were adding good points James Cash and Kevin O’Connor for the Shels but St Martins strong full forward Joe Coleman scored two splendid points from play to ensure that St Martins still held a lead 1-6 to 0-7 as the game entered the last five minutes of the half.
During this period Shels had a couple of gilt edge goal chances, Michael Feeney produced a good save from St Martins goalkeeper Jamie Carty and corner forward John Forde hit the post in an exciting passage of play.
However it was St Martins who struck for a goal and it was a splendid effort. Corner forwards Mikey Coleman and Mark Hayes combined, with Coleman putting Hayes in the clear and Hayes gave Stephen McGuire no chance in the Shels goal, to put St Martin’s five points to the good.
Shels rallied before the interval with points from the hard working Graham Staples and Michael Feeney helping Shels to get back within three points by the interval 2-7 to 0-10.
It really was a fine half of hurling with some great point taking and some splendid defensive work from the likes of Leo Burke and Aaron Maddock for the Martins and Glenn Malone and Simon Donohoe for the Shels
Showing their class St Martins pulled away with the first four points of the second half all superb points from play from lively Mark Hayes (two), Jake Firman and Pierce Doyle.
Stout defensive work by “Nilly” Cash and Brian Kehoe and goalkeeper Stephen McGuire ensured that St Martin’s did not break through for another goal in their spell of ascendancy.
Driven on by fine centre back Simon Donohoe and stellar midfielder Graham Staples Shels raised their game and made an impression on the scoreboard but St Martins managed to respond to the Shels scores to still leave six points between the sides as the game entered the final quarter.
Daniel Murphy scored a point for the Shels with his effort barely tipping the top of the crossbar.
Right on the 45minute mark Shels Eoin Nolan broke through and fired a great shot to the back of the net to really bring the Shels right back into the contest.
The Shels piled on the pressure in the latter stages, wing backs Conor Forde and Aaron Murphy were lending a hand upfield, Evan Devereux and Joseph Redmond were contributing and with this effort the Shels had a lot of possession in the last fifteen minutes. However they could get no closer as the outstanding St Martin’s defence with Dylan Meyler and Aaron Maddock holding firm and goalkeeper Jamie Carty in sparkling form between the posts Shels could not get the crucial second goal and St Martin’s finished with a few great points from Aaron Maddock, Joe Coleman and Leo Burke to deservedly win the splendid contest.
The fine sporting game ended with victory for St Martin’s but the brave young men of Shelmalier lost little in gallant defeat and emphasised that the hurling future of the club is in safe hands.
Stephen McGuire, Gavin Potter, Glenn Malone, Niall Cash, Conor Forde, Simon Donohoe (0-5, 0-2 frees, 0-2 “65’s”), Aaron Murphy, Graham Staples (0-2), James Cash (0-1), Evan Devereux, Eoghan Nolan (1-0), Daniel Murphy (0-1), John Forde, Kevin O’Connor (0-4, 0-2 free), Michael Feeney (0-1).
Brian Kehoe for Gavin Potter, Joseph Redmond for John Forde, Aaron Ryan, Aodhan Foley, Aaron Hearne, Conor Howlin, Jody Donohoe, Shane Neville.
Jamie Carty, John Collyer, Dylan Meyler, Tony Kelly, Leo Burke (0-1), Aaron Maddock (0-1), Adrian Ryan, Evan Dunbar, Pierce Doyle (0-2), Sean Stafford (1-5, 1-0 penalty, 0-4 frees), Jake Firwan (0-2), Mikey Coleman, Joe Coleman (0-3), Mark Hayes (1-2).
David Higgins for John Collyer Eoin Ennis for Mikey Coleman, Brad Cohen, Christopher Culleton, Daniel Murray, Dean Murray, Donal Kelly, Johnny Hamilton, Paddy Hamilton, Sean Dunne.
Referee Damien Donovan