Cantwell the hat-trick hero
DAVID CANTWELL was the St. Martin's hat-trick hero as his side moved into the Gorey Guardian Coiste na nÓg Juvenile football Premier championship semi-final at the expense of hosts Oylegate-Glenbrien on Monday of last week.
ST Martin's 5-7 Oylegate-Glenbrien 3-4
It was, incredibly, the Piercestown-based club’s first win of the season in seven attempts, having played the harder schedule in Premier A. It certainly seemed like the tough losses suffered in those group games stood to the victors as they played some nice football in slippery conditions.
While Cantwell's class in front of goal seals the headlines, it was the performance of centre-back Ben Stafford that was the basis for this win. No one person makes a team but the talented number six is a player St. Martin's will lean heavily on when they go into their semi-final with Ballinastragh Gaels as lively underdogs.
After winning five of their six group games, Oylegate-Glenbrien came into this contest with plenty of momentum. However, this was a step up in class and, while it didn't work out for them, the Enniscorthy District side gave it everything they had.
Oylegate-Glenbrien will now drop into the shield semi-finals but they probably have bigger fish to fry, as they currently lead the way in the Premier hurling table and have already qualified for the last four with two games left to play.
Despite Joe Dunne kicking a point from what seemed like an impossible angle, St. Martin's had built a 0-3 to 0-1 lead on the back of scores from Simon Curran and Jordan Hayes (two). Then Cantwell opened his account with a rocket finish from Conor Devereux's feed.
Adam Gethings hauled in Dunne's pass and fired past Matthew Duffy to drag Oylegate-Glenbrien back into the game but St. Martin's kept their opponents scoreless in the second quarter.
Hayes added two points but it was Cantwell's second goal, a soccer-style finish after Devereux saw his initial shot saved by Niall Mernagh, that gave the visitors a healthy interval advantage (2-5 to 1-1).
Michael Kelly pounced to poke home from close range three minutes after the resumption to give the home side hope. However, back came St. Martin's with Cantwell completing his treble.
Points from Paudie Casey and Danny Ryan were countered by a Devereux over but it was game-on when Niall Parker drilled to the net.
St. Martin's responded superbly to being pegged back to three ahead (3-6 to 3-3). Substitute Seán Roche found the net three minutes after Oylegate-Glenbrien's goal, and then a long-range major from Devereux rubber-stamped his side’s passage to the last four.
St. Martin's: Matthew Duffy; Ben Morris, Sam Audsley, Jim McDermott; Shane Walsh, Ben Stafford, Diarmuid Barry; Conor Stafford, Conor Kelly; Zac Firman, Jordan Hayes (capt., 0-5, 3 frees), Rúairí Whelan; David Cantwell (3-0), Simon Curran (0-1), Conor Devereux (1-1). Subs. - David Codd for C. Stafford, inj. (24), Seán Roche (1-0) for Whelan (40), John Hennessy for Morris (55), Joe Barrett for Cantwell (57), Jamie Berry for McDermott (60), also Philly McGrath.
Oylegate-Glenbrien: Niall Mernagh; Kevin Cosgrave, Niall Parker (1-0), Joseph Whelan; Micheál Shiggins, Peter Rowley, Tomás Cosgrave; Conor Nolan, Gary Conroy; Adam Gethings (1-0), Danny Ryan (capt., 0-1), Paudie Casey (0-2 frees); Michael Kelly (1-0), Jim Moulton, Joe Dunne (0-1). Subs. - Adam Byrne for Moulton (55), Joe Atkinson for Gethings (55).
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Blackwater).