GAA Féile na nGael Loch Garman Division 1 Final: Fethard 1-9 Shelmaliers1-4
The ultimate team performance is one of those things that are always strived for, but seldom seen.
The fabled Holy Grail. Well, the manner with which Fethard claimed the Féile na nGael Loch Garman Division 1 title at Ferns Centre of Excellence on Sunday morning was certainly close to perfection.
To limit a side with such capable forwards as Shelmaliers to a solitary point from play in a game of this magnitude speaks volumes of how in tune every member of the seasiders' defence was.
The routine efficiency how they went about keeping the scoreboard ticking over at the other end pays compliments to the hard work being done on the training fields.
Indeed, from the moment dependable captain Adam O'Grady opened the scoring after a minute, Fethard never looked back and would eventually book their ticket to the John West Féile na nGael after a 1-9 to 1-4 victory.
O'Grady would supply two more points to their tally by half-time, while outstanding centre-back Eoin Whelan demonstrated his accuracy from placed-balls with two long-range frees as the gap stood at 0-7 to 0-1 by the interval. Shelmaliers got very little change from that aforementioned obdurate Fethard defence, a concern first emphasised on 17 minutes when they collectively stood tall to defy the dangerous Luke Roche.
The Over the Water side relied on a couple of Cian Doyle's frees to remain within earshot three minutes after the break.
But then Whelan conjured up a goal worthy of any stage. He won possession from his own centre-back berth, shook off all comers as he broke through the middle, and although the ball briefly spilled loose, he regathered the sliothar again, beat a couple more would-be challengers for good measure before directing an unstoppable bouncer to the bottom corner of the net.
And the gap had grown to 1-9 to 0-4 by the time Michael Connors hammered home a late consolation goal for Shelmaliers that done little to halt Fethard's glory.
They will now travel to Galway for the competition which kick-starts on June 8, and will compete in Group D of Division 1 alongside the Tipperary representatives, together with host clubs Tynagh/Abbey/Duniry and Loughrea.
Fethard: Shane Finn Butler; Cian Swan, Conor McLoughlin, Ciaran Dunne; Kean Molloy, Eoin Whelan (1-3, 3fs), Bill Nunan; Jake Molloy, Cillian Byrne; Sean Nunan (0-1), Adam O'Grady (capt, 0-4, 2fs), Robbie Molloy; David Conway, Morgan Ellis (0-1), Kyle Baker. Subs: Padraig Gleeson for Conway (31), also Darren Roche, Kian Sutton.
Shelmaliers: Jack Redmond; Luke Cullen, Michael Connors (1-0), Adam Murphy; Kieran Hearne, Daniel Ormonde (0-1), Shane Kelly; Cian Doyle (0-2 frees), Robbie Delaney; Cathal Harding (capt), Luke Roche, Niall Power (0-1); Paddy Connors, Robbie Morris, Joe Coone. Subs: Jack O'Leary for Cullen (22), Ronan Furlong for Power (36), also Brian Donohoe, Ryan Doyle, Eoin Doyle, Cormac O'Sullivan, Adam Murphy, Evan Hearne, Jack Kelly, John Sunderland, Evan Gillan, Eoin Howlin.
Referee: James Owens (Kilrush)