Shelmaliers in flying form
Shelmaliers 2-20 Oulart/Ballagh 1-12
Shelmaliers won the inaugural Greenstar Premier B Under-21 Hurling Championship title against Oulart-The Ballagh in Bellefield on Monday evening of last week.
There have been differing opinions on whether a second tier Premier tournament was necessary but it must go down as a massive success.
The Hollymount club lost by 23 points to St Martin's in their championship opener but proved they have a team that could have been contenders in other seasons.
The same goes for Oulart. They put in the hard-yards in training and deserved more than a single shot at a classy Oylegate-Glenbrien side.
For the vast majority of this game they were right in it, the full-time score is more than a little flattering on the victors.
Having played against the breeze in the opening half and ended it just three points down (0-12 to 0-9), Oulart-The Ballagh must have felt reasonable good about where they stood heading into the second stanza.
Shelmaliers started the game well and had two Liam Rockett scores on the board quickly. Minor Ross Banville started to motor on the left side, in tandem with Rockett, and he eased his side into a 0-7 to 0-4 lead after the opening quarter.
Murtha Doyle had picked off a few nice points for the Enniscorthy District side in the meantime and when Barry Sinnott popped over in the 21st minute they were back to within two points at 0-9 to 0-7 behind. Conor Hearne has had an influence at senior level this season and he started to find his range as the half came to an end. Two raised white flags by the Shelmaliers centre-forward, plus one from the impressive Sean Keane-Carroll, saw their side leading by three at the break.
A finely balanced game was somewhat wrecked by the eventual victors as Rockett glided over three points in five second half minutes as Shels flashed 0-17 to 0-10 ahead. A quick response was not forthcoming from their opponents but it was badly needed.
The Oulart-The Ballagh energy was lifted significantly when, in the 49th minute, Billy Dunne released Barry Leacy into space. The full-forward took one look at the goal and unleashed a ferocious bullet that dragged his side within five (0-19 to 1-11).
Shelmaliers didn't panic after the goal, they just redoubled their efforts. There was still six points in it with two minutes left when they rubber-stamped the trophy. Kyle Roche played a hopeful ball across the face of goal and substitute James Doyle arrived at pace to delightfully glance home overhead from the edge of the square.
Game over as a contest, Shelmaliers added a little more gloss to the result when Roche darted in from the right corner in the final minute and drilled high to the roof of the net to leave eleven points between the sides at full-time.
SHELMALIERS: Adam Howlin; Aaron Doyle, Cian Manley, Adam Hearne; Craig Parker, Glen Malone, Chris Cowman; Sean Keane-Carroll (0-3), Aaron Murphy (capt.); Aodhan Foley, Conor Hearne (0-3), Liam Rockett (0-5); Kyle Roche (1-0), Niall Hearne, Ross Banville (0-8, 3 frees, 1 '65). Subs. - Michael Feeney (0-1) for N. Hearne (31), James Doyle (1-0) for Foley (54), Ryan Hanrahan for Roche (60), also, Joe Redmond, Mark Power, Aaron O'Neill, Jody Donohoe.
OULART-THE BALLAGH: Cathal Sinnott; Kevin Sinnott, Sean Murphy, Aidan Murphy; Conor Lawless, David Rossiter (capt.), Craig Davitt; Darragh Nimmo (0-1), Billy Dunne (0-3, 2 frees); Murtha Doyle (0-3), Cathal Kenny (0-1), Barry Sinnott (0-3); Darryl Gray, Barry Leacy (1-1), Robbie Dunne. Subs. - Jack Roche for R. Dunne (40), Bradley Collier for Kenny (44), also, Dylan O'Brien, Niall Nimmo, Liam Roche, Ethan Freeman, Lee Hore, Michael Doyle, Nathan O'Hanlon, Rob Foley, Stephen O'Connor, Robbie Cleary.
REFEREE: Ian Plunkett (Marshalstown-Castledockrell)