Martin's make first-ever final
THERE WAS late drama as Shelmaliers forced two penalties in a two-minute spell but only succeeded in goaling one as St. Martin's eventually came through with a deserved five points to spare in this tough Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship semi-final at Wexford Park on Sunday last.
St. Martin's looked comfortable, leading by 0-15 to 1-6 with eight minutes remaining. Then one minute later the Shels were awarded a penalty that Brian Malone neatly tucked away, but the drama was by no means over, as two minutes later the Over The Water side built another promising attack, with the ball being transferred across the goal to the unmarked Brian Doyle, whose shot for goal was blocked by the outstretched boot of 'keeper, Tomas Hayes.
Referee James Owens had no hesitation in awarding a penalty but this time Hayes guessed right, atoning for his error by getting down low to his left to beat Malone's kick out for a subsequent fruitless '45, as the Shels missed a golden opportunity of drawing level which could have transformed the closing six minutes.
It was an historic occasion for St. Martin's as they qualified for their first Senior football final. They were the better side for most of this game, looking much sharper, while they also carried the forwards with the ability to pick off points, which saw them kick 17 scores to their opponents' eight over the course of the 60 minutes.
Daithi Waters marked his inclusion in the Irish squad with a dominant display in midfield, winning an amount of possession that he utilised to his side's advantage, and with Willie Devereux, Daithi Hayes and Paudie Kelly launching attacks out of defence, the forwards saw a plentiful supply of ball, with Jamie Carty, Ciaran Lyng, Ciaran Redmond and Richard Devereux taking full advantage with some excellent points.
Shelmaliers struggled for momentum at crucial stages, with the exception of a ten-minute first-half spell when, after failing 0-4 to 0-1 behind, they struck for a delightful Eoghan Nolan goal that amazingly saw them lead by 1-4 to 0-5. Apart from that late second-half surge, and the tale of two penalties, they were left chasing the game for the most part as they could only manage 1-5 from play.
St. Martin's had their first score, a Jamie Carty point, inside 30 seconds, while two minutes later the same player had what appeared a goalbound shot cleared off the line by Eoin Doyle. Brian Berney and Aidan Cash exchanged points before scores from Ciaran Lyng and Ciaran Redmond had the south county side leading by 0-4 to 0-1 after nine minutes.
Shelmaliers then tacked on three points through Tommy Barron and Derek Walsh (two, one free) to level the sides at each, following which came a sparkling attack started in midfield and worked through the defence to Eoghan Nolan who blazed an unstoppable rising shot to the net from 14 metres, giving his side a 1-4 to 0-4 lead in a dramatic transformation.
St. Martin's regained the initiative, finishing the half with points from Richard Devereux, Brian Berney, Ciaran Lyng with two and James Boggan to lead by 0-9 to 1-4 at the interval.
St. Martin's continued to attack on the resumption, with Richard Devereux pointing within two minutes, while Ciaran Redmond tagged on a further point after 36 minutes, leaving his side leading by 0-11 to 1-4.
Shelmaliers had their first score since the 17th minute when Stephen Banville lofted over a huge point after 39 minutes. The Martin's dominance was to continue before the penalty drama arrived, but just to show their control the eventual winners closed out the game with points from a Ciaran Lyng free and a Jamie Carthy punched effort to qualify for their first final.