Dayle's major does the trick
Dayle Donohoe provided the moment of magic that propelled Starlights past Shelmaliers to the Greenstar Under-21 football Premier championship final at Bellefield on Friday.
Starlights 3-7 Shelmaliers 2-8
With the Hollymount side leading by a point (2-7 to 2-6), having battled a blustery wind for 23 second-half minutes, Liam Ryan broke from the left side of the field, drew the last defender and fed Donohoe who smashed to the roof of Seán Byrne's net.
It was a crippling goal for Shels to concede having battled so hard to keep their noses in front. However, the bulk of the damage was done in the first period, with the Over The Water boys managing to amass a mediocre four-point advantage despite playing with Storm Desmond at their backs.
Still, Mick O'Toole needed to make a pair of saves to keep his side in front late on.
The first, coming just a minute after the lead major, was the more impressive of the two as the Starlights 'keeper got down low to save from Glen Malone.
He was called into action in added time to ensure Colin Cleary's effort was turned behind the post, and then to guide Stephen McGuire's long-ranger off and over the crossbar to help see off the final moments of Shelmaliers pressure.
Earlier, points by Liam Rockett and Kevin O'Connor edged the visitors 0-2 to nil in front after four minutes. However, in a crucial spell of the game, the hosts registered points from the Dale Galway and Dayle Donohoe, either side of Liam Ryan's well-taken goal, to see the Starlights a goal clear.
Shelmaliers, who managed just two points in the first quarter, finally found their range and added minors from O'Connor (three) and Cleary (two). And Jody Donohoe's soccer-style finish past O'Toole, from Cork City star O'Connor's pass, gave their side a 1-7 to 1-3 interval lead.
Ryan Mahon had notched the final score of the opening period for the home side but substitute Lenny Connolly's superbly-taken goal, from Nick Doyle's feed, dragged Starlights within one early in the second-half.
When Darragh Pepper levelled for Starlights in the 44th minute - which come moments after the influential Aaron Murphy was dismissed for a black card following a yellow - the result seemed almost inevitable.
However, Craig Parker hadn't read that script and he drove at the hosts' defence, creating a chance for a major that Liam Rockett took advantage of.
Starlights responded immediately through Dillon Redmond and Nick Doyle to narrow the gap to one (2-7 to 2-6).
Following Donohoe's goal, Pepper notched his second point to give Starlights a three-point lead that would be enough to see them over the line to victory and a place in the title decider opposite Crossabeg-Ballymurn - a fixture due to take place this weekend.
Starlights: Mick O'Toole; Ben Edwards, Daniel O'Brien, Seán Cloherty; Dillon Redmond (0-1), Kevin Foley, Anthony Roche; Kevin Ryan, Liam Ryan (1-0); Dale Galway (0-1), Nick Doyle (0-1), Darragh Pepper (0-2); Ryan Mahon (capt., 0-1 free), Timmy Dwyer, Dayle Donohoe (1-1, 0-1 free). Subs. - Leonard Connolly (1-0) for Dwyer (29), Patrick O'Shea for K. Ryan (42).
Shelmaliers: Seán Byrne; Eoghan Fitzgerald, Simon Donohoe, Cian Manley; Neal Rossiter, Eoghan Nolan, Aaron Murphy; James Cash, Glen Murphy; Liam Rockett (1-1), Graham Staples, Conor Hearne; Jody Donohoe (1-0), Kevin O'Connor (capt., 0-4 frees), Colin Cleary (0-2). Subs. - Craig Parker for Cash (31), Stephen McGuire (0-1 free) for Hearne (50).
Referee: Pádraig Byrne (Kilanerin).