Shels edge it in tight derby

Shelmaliers 1-10 Blackwater 1-9

Brendan Furlong

In what was a compelling finish, Shelmaliers just about held a late Blackwater recovery to emerge with a one-point victory from this entertaining Enniscorthy Farm Systems Junior football championship Group B game in Monageer on Sunday.

Both sides were short of a number of regulars so they needed some individual players to stand up. The Shels had the impressive A.J. Lehane at centre-forward who contributed hugely to their victory, while Paul O'Leary did an immense amount of work to inspire the Blackwater recovery which came ever so close to forcing a share of the points.

Blackwater struck for a Denis Carroll point after just two minutes, but five minutes later Lehane cut through the defence to delightfully lob advancing 'keeper Robert O'Leary for a superb goal, giving his side a 1-0 to 0-1 lead.

Lehane followed up with a long-range point before Dylan Dixon and Chris Gordon went on to exchange points.

Then it was the accuracy of Craig Parker and Eoin O'Leary which extended their side's lead, while both Conor Sutton and Dean Whelan managed to keep Blackwater in touch with well-taken points. The eventual winners still led by 1-6 to 0-4 at the interval though.

With Wexford F.C. team-mates Lehane and Sutton exchanging points on the resumption, there was little to separate the sides as they continued to swap scores, leaving the Shels with a 1-9 to 0-6 lead after 42 minutes.

On 47 minutes Blackwater had impressive forward Dean Whelan dismissed on a second yellow card, but despite this setback they went on to play some of their best football in the closing quarter.

After Adam Howlin was just wide with a goal attempt to extend his side's lead, Declan O'Leary got on the end of a fine movement to shoot a superb goal and reduce the deficit to 1-9 to 1-7 with seven minutes remaining.

As Blackwater went in search of further scores, Brian O'Connor pointed for the Shels with a quick counter-attack.

Remarkably 14-man Blackwater kept on pressing, resulting in points from Dylan Dixon, whose rising shot went just over the bar, and Denis Carroll, to leave the minimum separating the sides (1-10 to 1-9).

The Shels managed to withstand the pressure in the closing minutes with some excellent defending from Cathal Gaule and Conor Walsh.

Shelmaliers: Graham Lawler; Cian Manley, Cathal Gaule, Eoghan Fitzgerald; Michael Feeney, Conor Walsh, Craig Parker (0-2, 1 free); Eoin O'Leary (0-2), James Cash; Chris Gordon (0-1), A.J. Lehane (1-2), Brian O'Connor (0-3, 1 free); Derek Walsh, Kevin O'Leary, Adam Howlin. Sub. - Seán Keane-Carroll for Parker, black card (54).

Blackwater: Robert O'Leary; Richard Blake, Anthony Roche, Ennae Carroll; Darren Byrne, Paul O'Leary, Diarmuid Murphy; Denis Carroll (0-2), Dean Wright; Dylan Dixon (0-2), Declan O'Leary (1-0), Michael Lillis; Conor Sutton (0-3, 2 frees), Joe Neville, Dean Whelan (0-2, 1 free). Subs. - Mark Donoghue for E. Carroll, Aidan Whelan for Sutton, inj.

Referee: Ian Plunkett (Marshalstown-Castledockrell).

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