Crossabeg-Ballymurn capture Under-21 title
Sam Kelly produced a super display of marksmanship to drive Crossabeg-Ballymurn on to a famous first-ever Greenstar Under-21 hurling Premier championship crown as a single parish unit in Innovate Wexford Park on Sunday.
C'beg-Ballymurn 1-15 Glynn-Barntown 2-6
The county player was in sparkling form in the half-forward line as he picked off five points from play and, with Wexford colleague Pádraig Foley producing the goods in defence, the green and whites emerged as convincing winners over their neighbours from the opposite side of the main Wexford-Enniscorthy road.
It was a case of third time lucky for Crossabeg-Ballymurn after many of Sunday's side had endured losses in the recent Intermediate hurling and Intermediate 'A' football finals. However, this made up in large measure for those setbacks, with the success arriving just three years after Under-21 hurling Roinn 1 glory, and eleven months after the Roinn 1 football title was collected.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn's previous two wins in the top flight of Under-21 hurling were achieved when united with Shelmaliers and Oylegate-Glenbrien respectively in 1975 and 1982, so it was an extra-special achievement to secure this title without any outside assistance.
This was Glynn-Barntown's third Premier final loss since their last win in 2010, and it was another bitter blow for this particular group as they have also gone down in the three most recent top grade Minor deciders. Indeed, seven of the 17 players used had lost the Under-18 clash with St. Martin's just eight days earlier.
They were always chasing this particular game, with Crossabeg-Ballymurn winning the toss and making full use of the wind to surge 1-8 to 0-2 clear by the interval. Thankfully the heavy rain which marred the curtain-raiser had passed, save for one brief shower at half-time, and indeed the sun even appeared close to the end to shine a light on a memorable afternoon for the Over The Water side.
They couldn't have hoped for a better start, as just 25 seconds had elapsed when Luke Redmond's pass from the right corner was gathered at pace by midfielder Ronan Devereux - one of three brothers on view - who crashed an unstoppable shot to Ciarán Joyce's net.
Glynn-Barntown were rattled, and they went on to concede four points too before the ten-minute mark while Ciarán Joyce also saved well to deny Luke Redmond. Goalscorer Devereux latched on to a Pádraig Foley free and handpassed out the field to his midfield partner, Bill Eviston, who split the posts after four minutes.
Sam Kelly then punished a foul on Devereux by converting the free before adding a brace of points from play, the second from 65 metres. Though he was stationed on the right wing for the throw-in, he swapped places with Oisín Foley and the duo formed a very strong half-forward line along with Conor Devereux whose strong running was evident when faced by the wind after the break.
A foul on Shane Codd gave Aaron Kehoe the chance to open Glynn-Barntown's account in the 13th minute, but Oisín Foley responded with a brilliant point from midfield before Kehoe doubled his tally after an overcarrying call against Pádraig Foley in the 18th minute (1-5 to 0-2).
Glynn-Barntown failed to score from play before the break, but they should have goaled shortly after Kehoe's second point when a collision between Paddy Devereux and Cormac O'Rourke left Ian Moran with a clear run at the posts. He flicked the ball off his stick and across the square to Matthew Joyce whose attempting at batting it to the net went harmlessly wide.
It was a let-off for Crossabeg-Ballymurn, and they responded to it as Pádraig Foley converted a free from deep inside his own half. Glynn-Barntown came close again in the 28th minute when Matthew Joyce's high delivery broke at the feet of Ian Moran whose instinctive pull with his back to goal rebounded off the butt of the left-hand upright.
They were unfortunate on that occasion, but they were powerless to curb the influence of Sam Kelly who extended his side's interval lead to 1-8 to 0-2 with two more excellent points, the first from midfield and the second after Oisín Foley did well to get a handpass away under pressure.
Glynn-Barntown introduced James Stafford at midfield and pushed Matt Doyle into the half-forwards in a bid to add some strength to their attack, as their small and light sextet lost out in the physical stakes to Crossabeg-Ballymurn even though the winners fielded without regular full-back Paul Larrissy.
And as a signal of intent, Sam Kelly's point from a crossfield Luke Redmond pass after 95 seconds couldn't have been any stronger. Already Crossabeg-Ballymurn had done what Glynn-Barntown failed to do by scoring a point from play into the wind, but the Killurin crew were thrown a lifeline in the 34th minute.
Rowan White and Fionn Cooney combined to put Ian Moran through, and the ball ended up in the net although he didn't get a clean strike away, with the last touch perhaps coming off a defender (1-9 to 1-2).
The opportunities didn't arrive as often as Glynn-Barntown would have liked after this tonic goal, although they were more hopeful by the 40th minute after Cooney grabbed their only point from play and Aaron Kehoe added his third from a free.
The gap was down to five but it didn't stay there for long. Firstly Sam Kelly and Conor Devereux did the spadework for a Ronan Devereux point, and then a foul on Conor led to a pointed free for Sam and the lead was extended to seven again (1-11 to 1-4).
Aaron Kehoe pointed on two more occasions, but substitute Cian Lambert cancelled out his first effort and wing-back Paddy Devereux did likewise the second time.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn drove on relentlessly with the winning post in sight, and Sam Kelly's catch and pass from a puck-out led to another Ronan Devereux point before team captain Andy Butler bore down on goal after an Oisín Foley delivery and flicked a one-handed effort which the goalkeeper touched over the bar.
Glynn-Barntown did manage a consolation goal in added time when an Aaron Kehoe '65 was batted out from under the crossbar and substitute Ben O'Shea smacked it into the corner of the net, but they were a clear second best in most departments.
Still, the year is far from over for the club as they now focus on Sunday's AIB Leinster Club Intermediate football semi-final at home to Athlone from Westmeath. Crossabeg-Ballymurn cannot rest either, with their bid for an Under-21 double starting in the football opener against St. John's Gaels on Saturday.
Crossabeg-Ballymurn: Noel Scallan; Martin Redmond, Cormac O'Rourke, David Kehoe; Paddy Devereux (0-1), Pádraig Foley (0-1 free), Conor Shovlin; Bill Eviston (0-1), Ronan Devereux (1-2); Sam Kelly (0-7, 2 frees), Oisín Foley (0-1), Conor Devereux; Luke Redmond, Andy Butler (capt., 0-1), Nicholas Murphy. Subs. - Dylan Ring for L. Redmond (39), Cian Lambert (0-1) for Murphy (39), Darragh Cummins for O. Foley (60), also Paul Larrissy, Luke Lacey, Shane Whelan, Thomas Dixon, Eoin O'Connor, Robert Byrne, Conor Barlow, Evan Kinlough, James White.
Glynn-Barntown: Ciarán Joyce; David Clarke, Jack Fenlon, Murtagh Joyce (capt.); Shane Codd, Calum O'Shea, Cian Neville; Rowan White, Matt Doyle; Aaron Kehoe (0-5 frees), Pádraic Weafer, Jimmer Doyle; Fionn Cooney (0-1), Matthew Joyce, Ian Moran (1-0). Subs. - James Stafford for J. Doyle (HT), Ben O'Shea (1-0) for Weafer (54), also Adam Kennedy, Dylan Roche, Killian Joyce, Kevin Mahoney, Frankie Hynes, Bill Joyce, John Lacey.
Referee: John Tobin (Geraldine O'Hanrahans).