Monday 11 December 2017

Anne's and Shels deadlocked after extra-time


ALAN AHERNE in Hollymount

WING-BACK Kevin Hannigan landed a priceless point with 35 seconds added at the end of extra-time to ensure that Glynn-Barntown must wait a while longer before finding out their Under-21 football Premier championship final opponents after an absorbing contest in Hollymount on Saturday last.

The gap between St. Anne's and Shelmaliers was never more than two points from the end of the first-half onwards, with some fine play from both sides peppered by numerous errors too as these Wexford District rivals spared nothing in their efforts to reach the decider.

The Shels had first use of the elements and looked to be well on course when they led by 05 to 0-1 after 16 minutes, with Brian Murphy (two), Craig McCabe (two, one free) and team captain Brian Doyle all picking off points.

St. Anne's were totally reliant on very accurate free-taker, Shane Mythen, for their scores in the opening half, but they improved considerably in the second quarter and had narrowed the gap to 0-6 to 0-4 by the interval.

They enjoyed a let-off in the 26th minute when a handpass at midfield went astray, and the resultant Shels attack saw Craig McCabe being tripped after receiving a Brian Doyle pass. He picked himself up to take the penalty, but netminder Conor Hannigan dived to his left and made a fine save.

Another Mythen free reduced arrears to the minimum inside five minutes of the re-start, with Aidan Cash responding before the saints drew level with points from Liam Og McGovern and Paddy Miskella (0-7 each). McGovern had a growing influence as the half wore on, and the advantage swayed in St. Anne's favour when Mythen (free) and Miskella again left them two up early in the last quarter.

A.J. Lehane converted a free for the Shels before their goalkeeper had his turn to shine, with Shane Birney making a brilliant fingertip save to deny Aidan Rochford who posed lots of problems after switching from defence to attack.

Another Shane Mythen free made it 0-10 to 08 in favour of the visitors with less than seven minutes left, but the Shels kept plugging away and got their rewards. County Minor Simon Donohoe, who had stints in defence and up front, picked off a fine individual point in the 58th minute before extra-time was ensured when Brian Doyle sent over a left-footed leveller with 22 seconds added (0-10 each).

Doyle went from experiencing a high to a low when play resumed though as he received a straight red card for a high tackle on Liam Og McGovern with nearly six minutes gone. Shane Mythen and A.J. Lehane had exchanged pointed frees beforehand, and that numerical difference left the Anne's slightly favoured at the third break (0-11 each).

However, as so often happens, the 14-man Shels stepped up their efforts and hit the front in the 73rd minute when Noel Mythen just found enough room to fire over a valuable point as a defender managed a half-block.

The St. Anne's followers must have feared the worst when Diarmuid O'Keeffe kicked a wide under pressure with just over 30 seconds of the last ten minutes left, but they conjured up an excellent equaliser to ensure that this championship won't be completed until mid-November at the earliest.

Their two big guns, O'Keeffe and McGovern, patiently worked the ball across the field to overlapping wing-back Kevin Hannigan who made no mistake despite the growing pressure, with the final whistle sounded on the kick-out.

Shelmaliers: Shane Birney; Shane Griffith, Benny Barron, Simon Donohoe (0-1); James Cash, Stephen Corrigan, Aidan Cash (0-1); A.J. Lehane (0-3, 2 frees), Brian Doyle (capt., 0-2); Brian Murphy (0-2), Glen Murphy, Niall Murphy; Craig McCabe (0-2, 1 free), Noel Mythen (0-1), Feargal Hynes. Subs. - Neal Rossiter for G. Murphy, Eoghan Nolan for N. Murphy; in extra-time: Ronan Kavanagh for B. Murphy, Conor Tobin for Griffith, Kevin O'Leary for Lehane, inj.

St. Anne's: Conor Hannigan; Gavin O'Brien, Tomás Cullen, Paul McDonnell; Kevin Hannigan (0-1), Aidan Rochford, Tony McDonnell; Kevin Whelan, Diarmuid O'Keeffe; Liam Rochford, Liam Og McGovern (capt., 01), Paddy Miskella (0-2); Diarmuid Kelly, Conor Kavanagh, Shane Mythen (0-8 frees). Subs. - Michael O'Brien for P. McDonnell; in extra-time: Shane Roche for M. O'Brien, inj.

Referee: James Flood (St. Mary's, Maudlintown).

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