Shanley points way for Forth and Bargy Minors
A SUPERB ten-point contribution from the talented Donal Shanley powered Forth and Bargy Gaels to an exciting and hard-earned one-point win over Naomh Eanna in this entertaining Wexford People Minor football Division 2 championship final in Monamolin on Sunday last.
The dual county under-age star added to his medal haul eight days after featuring prominently in St. Fintan's Intermediate triumph, with eight of his scores coming from placed balls.
It was bitter disappointment for the second time in 24 hours for the Gorey club following their Intermediate hurling loss to Buffers Alley, and one key member of that side, Conor McDonald, caused no little panic when he moved from centre-back to full-forward in the second-half. Unfortunately he was off target with a late chance to equalise while earlier the north county side sought goals when points were there for the taking. In truth, few would have quibbled if extra-time had been required.
The Fintan's, Our Lady's Island and St. Mary's (Rosslare) combination started well as an early Shanley free was converted before he flighted another to the far post and Sean Finan fisted it to the net in the seventh minute. Gorey were back in the hunt though by the end of the first quarter after Kevin Kennedy goaled following good work by Jamie Heffernan.
Just 90 seconds later Colm Sheridan was fouled by advancing goalkeeper Eoin Cummins and Conor McDonald tucked away the penalty to put Naomh Eanna into a 2-1 to 1-2 lead.
It wasn't sustained for long though as Donal Shanley pointed two more frees before an error at the back was punished to the full when he set up Conor O'Reilly for a well-taken goal.
The Wexford District side went on to lead by 2-6 to 2-2 at half-time and O'Reilly increased the gap to five before Naomh Eanna came storming back, hitting six of the next seven points to draw level near the end of the last quarter (2-8 each).
Yet again Shanley inspired his side with a hat-trick of relieving points, the first two from frees, before Daire Heffernan made it 2-12 to 2-8 with just over seven minutes left.
Sean Finan's handpass nearly found Bobby Modler when a goal was on the cards, but the chance wasn't taken and the next Gorey attack of note ended with Conor McDonald picking his spot in the net to reduce arrears to the minimum.
Shanley and Jamie Heffernan swapped pointed frees but the otherwise excellent McDonald struck a wide when a point looked a certainty and Forth and Bargy held on for victory. The Murray family members were out in force for the presentation of the Larry Murray Memorial Cup, with Dixie doing the honours as he handed over the silverware to Jim Rossiter.