Strong second-half seals win for Shels
Shelmaliers put in a strong second-half performance to record victory over Bannow-Ballymitty in their Junior hurling championship Group A tie in Taghmon, writes Kevin Walsh.
Shelmaliers 3-9 Bannow-Ballymitty 1-9
The old adage of a game of two halves could not have been more apt than for this entertaining encounter. Bannow-Ballymitty completely controlled the first-half with some crisp short passing and sharp shooting, but Shelmaliers emerged like a different team in the second period and were full value for their six-point win in the end.
Played at a high tempo on a greasy pitch, both teams struggled to retain possession in the opening stages but a free from Conor Byrne eventually opened the scoring for the Shels. Their rivals were quick to answer back with points from Patrick Fitzharris and Gary Morton.
Byrne and Fitzharris then traded frees before the first goal was supplied by Shelmaliers' Michael Feeney who coolly slotted past the onrushing 'keeper after a mazy run.
The Bannow-Ballymitty men responded well, however, and took control with two frees from Patrick Fitzharris and a fine point from his brother, Tom.
Patrick Fitzharris moved Bannow-Ballymitty further clear with a neat turn and finish to the net in the closing stages of the half and, although Conor Byrne pointed another free, Shelmaliers went into the break four points adrift.
With the half-time team talk ringing in their ears, Shelmaliers came flying out of the blocks after the break and quickly drew level when Stephen Whelan found the net, just moments after Emmet O'Leary had fired over a long-range effort.
With ten minutes to play, Liam Rockett latched on to a long ball before firing in the Shels' third goal, and although Patrick Fitzharris tried to keep Bannow-Ballymitty in it with two more scores, Rockett hit two late points to seal the win for Shelmaliers.
Shelmaliers: Paul McCleane; Eoghan Fitzgerald, Barry O'Connor, Eoin O'Leary; Kevin O'Leary, Denis Kelly, Aaron O'Neill; Emmet O'Leary (0-1), Graham Staples; Jody Donohoe, Conor Byrne (0-5 frees), Liam Rockett (1-2); Michael Feeney (1-0), Stephen Whelan (1-1), Shane Griffith. Sub. - Johnny Campbell for Emmet O'Leary.
Bannow-Ballymitty: John Sinnott; John Mernagh, John O'Leary, Art Murphy; Pádraig McCormack, Niall Murphy, Mark Wallace; David Currid, Art Sweetman; Nicky Doyle, Patrick Fitzharris (1-6, 0-4 frees), Gary Morton (0-2); Tom Fitzharris (0-1), Alan Barden, Richie Walsh. Sub. - John Foley for Barden.
Referee: Jack Stafford (Clongeen).