Aaron on the mark
Ballinastragh Gaels 2-15 Shelmaliers 2-4
Ballinastragh Gaels claimed the first half of a double with victory over Shelmaliers in the Gorey Guardian Juvenile football Premier shield final in St. Patrick's Park.
The Kilanerin/Tara Rocks followed up with a Roinn 1 hurling shield final replay win against Oulart-The Ballagh, and they got the perfect confidence boost heading into that with a clinical big-ball success.
They were particularly indebted to lively corner-forward Aaron Whelan, who scored 2-2, but probably won this game with a mammoth performance by midfield duo Conor Hughes and Ben Morris.
After winning the Premier hurling shield against Rathgarogue-Cushinstown two weeks earlier, Shelmaliers were looking for a double of their own.
However, they came up against a side in tip-top form in this game.
After a couple of near misses by Joe Curtis, it was the Hollymount side who struck first.
The marauding Aodhán Byrne did all the hard work and may claim the goal but it looked like Ryan Corrigan got the final touch, under pressure on the goal-line.
From 1-2 to 0-1 behind, Ballinastragh took control.
Robert Murphy scored three in a string of Gaels points before his run supplied Curtis with the ammunition to feed Whelan into the clear for his side's opening goal.
Down by 1-6 to 1-2 after Tom Mordaunt's point, Shelmaliers made it a lot tighter at the break when Corrigan fired home the rebound after Garbhan Finn leaped low to his right to keep out Louis Gainfort's goal-bound shot.
The second-half was a different story altogether.
Three Murphy points and a Paddy D'Arcy minor had the Gorey District side well ahead when Conor Hughes' ball in was taken and finished to the net by Whelan.
Both Ballinastragh midfielders added points late in the game as the rain started to fall.
Shelmaliers kept fighting all the way to the end, and Paul Hearne and Tomás O'Connor kicked a couple of fine scores too, but it wasn't near enough to deny a dominant Gaels from taking the win.
Ballinastragh Gaels: Garbhan Finn; Lee Noblett, Jason Bolger, Cillian Byrne; Shane Gibson, Paddy D'Arcy (0-1), Fintan Staunton; Conor Hughes (capt., 0-2), Ben Morris (0-1); Tom Mordaunt (0-2), Robert Murphy (0-7, 5 frees), Simon Campbell-Carty; Aaron Whelan (2-2), Joe Curtis, Conor Kinsella. Subs. - Caleb Byrne-Murphy for Curtis (39), Jordan Kinch for Campbell-Carty (51), William Higgins for Whelan (56), Mikey Higgins for Kinsella (59), also J.J. Kinsella-O'Neill, Jake Kinsella, Conor Jones, Michael Fortune.
Shelmaliers: Tiarnan Malone; Seán Og Flanagan, Tomás O'Connor (0-1), Mark Doyle; Paul Hearne (0-1), Hugh Peter Manley, Aodhán Byrne; Evan Carr, Darragh Malone (0-1); Corey Lawlor (0-1), Dylan O'Neill, Conor Roche; Ryan Kielthy, Louis Gainfort, Ryan Corrigan (2-0). Subs. - David Doyle for Roche (43), Darragh Howlin for Gainfort (48), Ciaran Rattigan-O'Neill for Og Flanagan (52), Oisín Furlong for Lawlor (52), Mark Scallan for Kielthy (56), Darren O'Leary for Byrne (56), also Ethan Kelly, Adam O'Leary.
Referee: Martin Armstrong (Starlights).