Shels pile pressure on under-performing Ferns
Goals from Ciarán O'Shaughnessy and Brian Malone were the difference in Bellefield on Saturday as Shelmaliers moved within a victory of a place in the quarter-finals of the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship.
Shelmaliers 2-14 Ferns St Aidan's 0-15
The Over The Water boys have bounced back superbly from their opening game defeat against Oulart-The Ballagh and will hope to wrap up qualification against Faythe Harriers next time out.
For Ferns, things are starting to look grim. With the main attacking duo of Paul Morris and Ian Byrne struggling to be at anything like full fitness and the influential Benny Jordan out altogether, they just lacked that cutting edge that they have become renowned for in recent years.
That said, things could have been so different had they not been denied a blatant penalty six minutes into the second-half with the score at 1-9 to 0-9. It was undoubtedly the most important passage of play in the game as Tommy Dwyer bore down on goal but was hauled, from around the midriff, to the ground.
Referee Justin Heffernan waved away justifiably furious appeals and Shelmaliers immediately went up the other end, pointed through Joe Kelly and quickly added another brace to turn a potentially tied game into a six-point lead in the blink of an eye for the county champions.
It would be folly to claim that the victors weren't the better side. They took the lead in the second minute when Brian Doyle pointed and their opponents were only on level terms once more when Ian Byrne scored his third point to make it 0-3 apiece after ten minutes.
Kelly had three points on the board himself when James Cash and Eoghan Nolan combined on the left and fired the ball into the goalmouth where Ciarán O'Shaughnessy was on hand to flick home the breaking ball.
The lead stood at three at half-time (1-8 to 0-8), and six after the mini-burst following the non-penalty.
When Brian Malone shot to the net from his knees after being picked out by O'Shaughnessy to make the lead nine with 14 minutes remaining, the game was all-but up for Ferns.
They continued to chip away but failed to find the goal they badly needed.
While the equation is pretty easy for Shelmaliers, Ferns are in danger of missing out on a spot in the last eight. With games against Shamrocks and Oulart-The Ballagh to come they will need at least one high-scores victory, and may even require more to stay alive.
Shelmaliers: Brian Murphy; Simon Donohoe, Aidan Murphy, Andre O'Brien; Conor Walsh, Benny Barron, Aidan Cash; Eoin Doyle (0-1), Brian Doyle (0-1); James Cash, Brian Malone (1-2), Stephen Banville; Eoghan Nolan, Ciarán O'Shaughnessy (1-1), Joe Kelly (capt., 0-9, 5 frees, 1 line ball). Sub. - Conor Byrne for Cash, temp. (22-25).
Ferns St. Aidan's: Michael Walsh; Niall Maguire, Pádraig Ryan, Declan Byrne; Tomás Hawkins, James Tonks, Ciarán Roberts; Gavin Bailey, Tommy Dwyer (0-4 frees); Derek Thorpe (0-1), John Breen, Jonathan Dwyer (0-2); Christopher O'Connor (0-3), Paul Morris, Ian Byrne (0-5, 3 frees, 1 '65). Subs. - Ryan Nolan for I. Byrne (47), Jamie Whelan for Breen (50).
Referee: Justin Heffernan (Blackwater).