Most people thought it couldn’t be done, however the brave young men of the Shelmalier GAA Club proved the impossible can be achieved when they overcame a determined Starlight’s side to record a famous 6 in a row of Jim Byrne Cup titles on Sunday last in St. Patrick’s Park Enniscorthy winning on a score line of 3-9 to 3-6 after an enthralling encounter from start to finish.
The Starlight’s got the brighter start and had amassed 1-2 to 0-0 within 4 minutes. Glen Malone dealt with a high ball well and after some good work up through the field Kevin O’Connor put the on form Tony Smith through for his first major of the day. Barely two minutes later, O’Connor combined with Stephen McGuire to put Smith through again and he made no mistake blasting the ball to the back of the net for his second goal in as many minutes. Sean Byrne had his first save of the day soon after however as one of the defenders handled the subsequent rebound, the referee awarded a penalty to Starlights, which they duly converted leaving a score line at this stage of 2-0 to 2-2. Shels at this time lost influential centre back Eoghan Nolan with man of the match Simon Donohoe moving out from full back to take his position and the speedy Kevin Byrne came in on the wing. With wing forward Colin Cleary making many intelligent runs into the Starlight’s backline resulting in Capt Neal Rossiter pointing free from a sharp angle. On the resumption of play Simon Donohoe collecting the ball in the backs soloed the length of the field to pick off a great point. Neal Rossiter converted 2 more free’s and Stephen McGuire picked off a superb point also. Adam Whitmore who was having a fantastic game at centre forward and who seemed to be everywhere sent an accurate pass to the waiting Kevin O’Connor who shot for goal. However the Starlights keeper pulled off a good save and when Smith shot the rebounding ball to the net, the keeper saved again. A late point for Starlights seen the half time score 2-5 to 2-3 in favour of the Shels.
Again it was the Starlights who made the stronger start and quickly took the lead again with a goal in the opening minute of the half. However Shels went about taking the game by the scruff of the neck and amassed 1-4 in the next ten minutes. Kevin O’Connor 1-1, Stephen McGuire 0-2 and Neal Rossiter a point. Score 3-9 to 3-3. However that was to be Shels last score of the day as they had to fight off a late comeback from Starlights who seemed to be gathering in strength and they quickly added 3 points to their tally. 3-9 to 3-6. The hard working Graham Staples was injured at this stage, but was able to carry on after some medical attention. Sean Byrne made two great saves in the closing stages of the game and the full back line of Glen Malone, Eoghan Fitzgerald and Eoin O Leary held a firm grip against many Starlight’s attacks. Simon Donohoe was also holding firm at centre back with the assistance of his wing backs Evan Deveraux and Kevin Byrne as they cleared attack after attack. Shels held on for a well deserved three point victory. Capt Neal Rossiter accepted the cup and Simon Donohoe was awarded the man of the match. Sean Byrne was rock solid in goal. Glen Malone, Eoghan Fitzgerald and Eoin O’Leary held the full back line strong on the day. The half back line of Simon Donohoe, Eoghan Nolan (& later Kevin Byrne) and the indomitable Evan Devereux did a superb job. Shels had two towers at midfield with James Cash and Graham Staples, taking no prisoners and giving no quarter. Our half forward line, surely one of the most effective lines of the day was manned by Stephen McGuire, Adam Whitmore and Colin Cleary, whilst Neal Rossiter, Tony Smith and Kevin O’Connor did their job to the highest standard and delivered the scores on the day. TEAM: Sean Byrne, Glen Malone, Simon Donohoe, Eoin O’Leary, Eoghan Fitzgerald, Eoghan Nolan, Evan Devereux, James Cash, Graham Staples, Stephen McGuire(0-3), Adam Whitmore, Colin Cleary, Neal Rossiter, (C) (0-5F), Tony Smith (2-0), Kevin O’Connor.(1-1) Subs Kevin Byrne for Eoghan Nolan inj. Panel: John Forde, Conor Forde, Conor Howlin, Stephen Carr, Aaron Ryan, Aaron Murphy, Jody Donohoe, & Mark Mythen. Selectors: Bob Staples, John Nolan, Seamus O’Leary. Physio Donal O’Connor.