Taghmon-Camross the top dogs
Very strong finish yielded 2-9 without reply from Shels
Taghmon-Camross got the jolt they needed midway through the third quarter in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday and never looked back as they hit 2-9 without reply in the last 18 minutes to collect the Enniscorthy Electrical Wholesale Junior hurling championship title for the first time since 1987.
Taghmon-Camross 3-16 Shelmaliers 2-6
Last year's runners-up looked to be well placed at half-time when they were on level terms with Shelmaliers (1-5 each) after playing against the wind blowing into the town end. And when they resumed with points from county Minor Ian Carty and giant-hearted veteran Johnny Waters inside four minutes, there was nothing to suggest that the black and ambers would pose them any problems.
However, hurling games can change in an instant, and Taghmon-Camross were rocked back on their heels when they conceded 1-1 inside 90 seconds to fall in arrears by two points (2-6 to 1-7).
First Alan Griffith fed Stephen Whelan for a point, and then Aaron O'Neill's long free landed around the square and led to a scramble which was eventually sorted out when Liam Rockett, the two-goal hero from the semi-final win over Horeswood, pulled to the net.
It was an obvious test of the mettle of this young and fancied Taghmon-Camross side, many of whom had collected Under-21 Roinn 1 medals last year.
And they certainly responded in tremendous style as they had drawn level by the 43rd minute and never looked back thereafter.
An unfortunate three-man collision after 39 minutes forced the withdrawal of Taghmon-Camross attacker Richard Comerford and Shels defender Eoghan Fitzgerald, with Pierce Doyle the only one of the trio in a position to continue.
And, after points from Doyle (free), the excellent Barry O'Gorman and Stephen O'Gorman pushed the New Ross District side ahead again, Comerford's replacement struck for a crucial goal. It arrived in the 46th minute when a long ball from Barry O'Gorman found Johnny Waters, now operating at left corner-forward.
He slipped in behind Shels substitute Cian Manley and, though his shot was saved by Paul McCleane, new addition T.J. Codd was lurking and kicked the rebound to the net from close range (2-10 to 2-6).
Taghmon-Camross weren't going to be denied at that stage as Waters added a point from another Barry O'Gorman delivery before Michael and Stephen O'Gorman combined to put Pierce Doyle through for a well-taken solo goal (3-11 to 2-6).
Another five points followed without reply, with Barry O'Gorman converting a line ball from the right after doing the same from the left in the first-half before Doyle (free), Ian Carty, Doyle (play) and Páuric O'Gorman widened the winning margin to a commanding 13 points.
Taghmon-Camross also hit nine second-half wides with none from their rivals and, while their forwards got the scores that mattered, great credit must go to their backs whose discipline was immense throughout.
Shels free-taker Conor Byrne had chalked up some huge tallies en route to the final, but this time around he only had once chance from a free which he took, and that was from inside his own half in the first period.
Both sides were without defenders in Adam Winters (Taghmon-Camross) and Barry O'Connor (Shelmaliers), and while the eventual winners had triumphed in the sides' first round game in May by 2-11 to 0-16, the tables had been turned in a league semi-final since then.
While it was five weeks since Taghmon-Camross thrashed Tara Rocks in their last outing, the Shels had the benefit of tough contests over the previous two Saturdays, and they also had first use of the elements.
Four of their eight first-half wides came in the opening 15 minutes as the strength of the winners' defence was clear from an early stage. The very influential Barry O'Gorman sweetly fired over his first line ball in the fourth minute, with Jody Donohoe levelling from the puck-out.
Six scoreless minutes followed before O'Gorman restored his team's lead from play, and a solo effort from Pierce Doyle made it 0-3 to 0-1.
The Shels were back on level terms after points from wing-back Cathal Gaule and Michael Feeney, but the atmosphere was fairly muted until a two-goal burst in under 40 seconds early in the second quarter.
A pulled pass from Michael O'Gorman was gathered by Richard Comerford who ran menacingly at the Shelmaliers defence before finishing clinically to the net. However, the reply was immediate as Shels corner-forward Michael Feeney latched on to a breaking ball and planted it in the far corner out of Seán O'Gorman's reach (1-3 each).
Liam Rockett then put the 2011 runners-up ahead for the first time, only for Ian Carty to equalise before a Pierce Doyle free restored the Taghmon-Camross lead.
Good defending denied Stephen O'Gorman when he bore down on goal but couldn't get a shot away in the 26th minute, and that one and only free pointed by Conor Byrne left his side on level terms at the break (1-5 each).
Taghmon-Camross, who shot four wides before the interval, resumed with that brace of early points, but an anxious few minutes followed. Alan Griffith was a steadying influence at centre-back for the Shels while Eoin O'Leary was trying hard behind him, and it took a short while for the Jason Ryan-trained victors to establish a really firm grip on proceedings.
Once they did though, there was no doubt regarding the outcome as the disappointments of final losses to Craanford and St. James' in 2009 and 2014 respectively were buried with that powerful finish in a game refereed extremely well by Shane Quinn, one of the youngest officials in the county who is still playing Under-21 with his club.
Taghmon-Camross: Seán O'Gorman; Mark O'Gorman (capt.), Robert Nolan, Páuric O'Gorman (0-1); Stephen Stafford, Alan Nolan, Pat Nolan; Barry O'Gorman (0-4, 2 line balls), Darren Carty; Richard Comerford (1-0), Johnny Waters (0-2), Ian Carty (0-3); Michael O'Gorman, Stephen O'Gorman (0-1), Pierce Doyle (1-5, 0-3 frees). Subs. - T.J. Codd (1-0) for Comerford, inj. (41), Conor O'Keeffe for Michael O'Gorman (51), Jack Murphy for P. Nolan (57), Darren Colfer for Waters (60), also Adam Winters, Jack Dunne, Shane Doyle, Luke Sinnott, Richard Stafford, Barry Og McGrath, David O'Keeffe, James Carroll, Thomas Furlong, Stephen O'Keeffe, Brian O'Gorman.
Shelmaliers: Paul McCleane; Eoghan Fitzgerald, Graham Staples, Eoin O'Leary; Aaron O'Neill, Alan Griffith, Cathal Gaule (0-1); Ciarán Walsh, Glen Malone; Jody Donohoe (0-1), Emmet O'Leary, Liam Rockett (1-1); Stephen Whelan (0-1), Conor Byrne (0-1 free), Michael Feeney (1-1). Subs. - Cian Manley for Fitzgerald, inj. (41), Johnny Campbell for Whelan (46), Darren Malone for Donohoe (52), Denis Kelly for Feeney (52), Kevin O'Leary for E. O'Leary (57), also Barry O'Connor, Craig Parker, Michael Kelly.
Referee: Shane Quinn (Ballygarrett).