Our senior hurlers met St. Martins in Wexford Park Tues last. It was a game of vital importance to both sides.
A loss would see St. Martins fighting relegation and a win for Shels would see them safely through to the quarter finals. St. Martins, the only team this year to beat current champions Oulart/The Ballagh, got much the better start with a goal and a point in the opening 5 minutes. Stephen Banville had opened Shels account with a fine point and Conor Byrne pointed a free minutes later. Ten minutes in and St. Martins led 1-2 to -02. Brian Doyle did well to point at distance but St. Martins were dominant in all areas of the pitch and added 1-2 without reply. Conor Byrne converted two frees and Ciaran O’Shaughnessy did well under pressure to point but Shels went into the break 2-8 to 0-6. It seemed a daunting task for them to turn the game around for the second half with their current standard of play. Shels lost influential full back Aidan (Ned) Murphy to a facial injury just before the break and James Cash was introduced as a temporary blood sub. Aidan returned to the field after treatment.
On the resumption Shels took to the field with renewed determination and several positional changes. From the off Shels were in charge and bore no resemblance to their earlier display. Joe Kelly pointed twice from placed balls and a point from play before great play from mid field saw Stephen Banville make a superb catch and he headed goal with only one thing on his mind. Much to the supporters delight his shot was well on target and the gap had closed to 2-9 to 1-9 in favour of St. Martins. St. Martins were throwing everything at Shels as they tried hard to stem the Shels revolt but time after time they were thwarted. Aidan Murphy cleared danger several times and moments later Brian Doyle having gone back into the goal cleared a certain goal off the line. Joe Kelly pointed the next two frees before play again from midfield seen a fantastic pass down to the waiting Banville who again neatly plucked the sliothar out of the air. Stephen Banville finding himself completely surrounded lobbed an overhead pass to the on form Brian Malone who set off determinedly for the St. Martins goal, the keeper had no chance to save the resulting shot and the sides were level at 2-11 each. It was proving to be a tremendous game. Conor Walsh then gave Shels supporters plenty to cheer about after he won a ball in the half back line and set off at speed and his resulting effort saw Shels go into the lead for the first time since the 2nd minute of the game. St. Martins had a free sent wide. All eyes were on the clock 3 mins left, Shels one ahead, again Martins attacked, again Shels full back line (now bolstered by the presence of Benny Barron) defended. St. Martins sent two more wides to groans from their supporters. Aidan Cash a tower of strength at wing back was fouled and Joe Kelly sent the resulting free over the bar, now 2-13 to 2-11 to Shels. Another minute of play, again Martins attacked, again the attack was snuffed out. Eoin Doyle was seemingly everywhere on the pitch & Clive Lawler-Ryan controlling the defence lines ably. Barely 2 minutes of extra time and the referee blew the final whistle much to the delight of Shels supporters. Best line of the day from Paul Tobin, “Well done to all involved with senior hurlers for Lazarus act in second half #uptheshels”. Shels are now through to the quarter finals and St. Martins go to the relegations play offs.
Team: Brian Murphy, Simon Donohoe, Aidan Murphy, Brian Malone (1-0), Conor Walsh (0-1), Clive Lawler-Ryan, Aidan Cash, Brian Doyle, (0-1) Eoin Doyle, Benny Barron, Ciaran O’Shaughnessy (0-1), Joe Kelly (0-6, 5F), Eoghan Nolan, Stephen Banville (1-1), Conor Byrne ( 0-3F). Subs introduced James Cash.
Impossible to call outstanding performers, everyone had to up their game in the second half and everyone did. It was a great team performance. St. Martins twitter awarded MOTM to Stephen Banville and this was surely a worthy choice for the man who played a vital part in both goals.