Penalty save inspires Shels
Martin’s lose on home soil
Shelmaliers booked their place in the final in impressive fashion, as a goal in each half helped them to an eventual three-point victory over a battling St. Martin's outfit in this hugely entertaining Greenstar Under-21 football Premier championship clash at Piercestown on Saturday.
Shelmaliers 2-7 St. Martin's 1-7
The Shels may have been favourites going into this game - watched by new Wexford Senior manager Seamus McEnaney - but they found it difficult to shake off a determined home outfit.
The losers were left to bemoan a missed penalty opportunity after just two minutes when Jake Firman's low drive was excellently saved by 'keeper Aodhán Foley, an effort that inspired his side for the remainder of the game.
While the Shels dominated for lengthy periods, wayward finishing, and taking the wrong option when in a scoring position, saw them leave the result in doubt until very late on.
St. Martin's worked diligently to put that early penalty mishap behind them, but in truth they lacked scoring power in attack.
With some of the big guns failing to shine, they struggled for scores with their goal from another penalty arriving late in the game when the result had gone away from them.
Just two minutes into the game, Seán Stafford was fouled close to goal, but Jake Firman had his effort from the spot kick well saved by Aodhán Foley.
Following this the sides went on to exchange points through Craig Parker (free) and a fine long-range effort from Jake Firman.
The home side followed with points from a Jamie Carty free and Joe Coleman to lead by 0-3 to 0-1 at the end of the opening quarter, but the Shels responded through Eoghan Nolan and Colin Cleary points.
And the crucial breakthrough arrived six minutes before the break when Graham Staples fired home a fine goal, a score that left his side with a 1-5 to 0-5 interval lead.
One had to wait until the 15th minute for the opening score of the second-half, with Eoghan Nolan first-timing a breaking ball high into the roof of the net to put his side into a 2-5 to 0-5 lead.
And when they added points through Conor Hearne and a Craig Parker free, they extended into a 2-7 to 0-5 lead with eight minutes of normal time remaining.
As St. Martin's tried to get back into the game, Rory O'Connor saw a shot for goal hit the side-netting, while Jake Firman and Seán Stafford kicked points, but still six separated the sides.
On the 60th minute Jamie Carty was fouled as he moved in on goal, with Ben Maddock netting from the resultant penalty, but the home side were unable to fashion an equalising goal in the additional time as the Shels defence held firm.
Shelmaliers: Aodhán Foley; Cian Manley, James Cash, Joseph Redmond; Craig Parker (0-3 frees), Simon Donohoe, Chris Cowman; Aaron Murphy, Glen Malone; Jody Donohoe, Conor Hearne (0-1), Liam Rockett (0-1); Graham Staples (1-0), Eoghan Nolan (1-1), Colin Clery (0-1). Subs. - Michael Feeney for Rockett, Stephen McGuire for Cleary, Kyle Roche for J. Donohoe.
St. Martin's: Nicky Greene; Tony Kelly, Conor Firman, Mikey Coleman; Harry O'Connor, Donal Kelly, Ben Maddock (1-0 pen.); Rory O'Connor, Joe O'Connor; Jake Firman (0-2), Joe Coleman (0-1), Barry O'Connor; Seán Stafford (0-2), Jamie Carty (0-2, 1 free), Michael Codd. Subs.- Pádraic Rossiter for Codd, Peter Barry for B. O'Connor, Darragh Kenny for M. Coleman, Johnny Hamilton for T. Kelly, Conor Coleman for Stafford.
Referee: David Jenkins (Gusserane).