First-half goals key to Shels success
A display of clinical finishing in the first-half that led to two goals proved decisive as Shelmaliers overcame a stern Faythe Harriers test before emerging with a six-point victory in this All-County Hurling League Division 4 final at St. Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy, on Saturday.
Shelmaliers 2-16 Raythe Harriers 0-16
For three-quarters of this high-intensity game very little separated the sides, but the superior fitness of the Shels enabled them to pull away in the final quarter as they picked off some excellent points from a variety of angles to push on to victory.
Faythe Harriers played some quality hurling but their finishing let them down, particularly through the opening 30 minutes when they had sufficient possession and chances to have given them a half-time lead.
But once their opponents stepped up the tempo in the closing quarter, the town side hadn't the fitness to remain in touch. They surrendered a number of scores through poor clearances and lack of ability to win outfield possession through this final quarter.
Points from Jody Donohoe and Conor Byrne (free) had the Shels leading by 0-2 to nil after five minutes, but the Harriers began to creep into the game with Ben O'Brien being particularly prominent in attack as himself and Con O Donnagáin brought the sides level with points.
Nine minutes into the game a delightful Conor Byrne crossfield ball picked out Michael Feeney, who created space before crashing his shot across the 'keeper into the opposite corner of the net.
But with O'Brien and O Donnagáin picking off points, the Harriers moved into a 0-7 to 1-2 lead after 20 minutes.
Just on the break a high Conor Byrne free broke, leaving Jody Donohoe to crash a low ground shot to the net and bringing the sides level (2-3 to 0-9) at the interval.
After Conor Byrne and O Donnagáin (free) had exchanged early second-half points, the sides were still level (2-6 to 0-12) after 38 minutes.
Entering the final quarter the Shels had stretched into a 2-9 to 0-12 lead. With Jody Donohoe now winning lots of possession on his move outfield to fire over some nice points, and with Byrne also punishing every indiscretion, they eventually moved on to a hard-earned six-point victory.
Shelmaliers: Paul McCleane; Eoin O'Leary, Kevin O'Leary, Eoghan Fitzgerald; Niall Murphy, Barry O'Connor, Aaron O'Neill; Graham Staples, Denis Kelly; James Gordon, Conor Byrne (0-10, 6 frees), Emmet O'Leary (0-1); Michael Feeney (1-1), Jody Donohoe (1-3), Chris Gordon. Subs. - Shane Griffith for Kelly, Arnie Murphy (0-1) for C. Gordon, Aodhán Foley for Feeney.
Faythe Harriers: Adam McDaid; Stephen Cummins, Nicky Lawlor, Fiach O Crualaoich; Jack Murphy, Seán Pailing, Damien Roche; Dean Walsh (0-1), Daniel Lynch (0-1); Conor Halligan, Colm Heffernan, Ben O'Brien (0-4); Ian Mitchell, Con O Donnagáin (0-10, 6 fres), Eoin Roche. Subs. - Peter Walsh for Mitchell, Fran Cleary for Halligan, Danny Walsh for Cummins, Paul Gannon for Lynch.
Referee: John O'Loughlin (Monageer-Boolavogue).