Castletown claim treble
ACFL Division 1 final: Castletown 1-11 Glynn-Barntown 1-10
Castletown confirmed their status as undisputed All-County League specialists in Bellefield on Sunday when they pipped Glynn-Barntown by one point to claim the EEW Division 1 football crown for the third year on the trot.
It was their fourth successive appearance in the decider after three meetings with Gusserane, with the trilogy starting on a low note with defeat in 2015 before they captured the title at the end of the next two campaigns.
And this latest success was certainly achieved the hard way, as Castletown played with 14 men from first-half added time onwards after Danny Gardiner was dismissed on a second booking.
It was a tetchy encounter throughout, with a lot of infantile pulling and dragging off the ball, and referee Philip Murphy had his hands full on his first major appointment.
Ten yellow cards were issued in all, including that double for Gardiner, and the free count of 49 (25 to Castletown) further underlined that it was far removed from a flowing spectacle.
Glynn-Barntown opened brightly, with Rioghan Crosbie converting a free before a glorious crossfield ball from Fionn Cooney set up county hurling goalkeeper Mark Fanning to double their advantage in the fourth minute.
Jonathan Bealin (free) and Ben Brosnan ('45) brought Castletown level, but they fell behind again to a well-taken Glynn-Barntown goal with just under eleven minutes gone.
Michael O'Regan sprayed the ball into the right corner for Robbie Dempsey whose speed took him away from Risteárd Kinsella before he planted the ball in the net past Niall Hempenstall - deputising for Anthony Masterson who was on managerial duty with the Wexford ladies in Cahir (1-2 to 0-2).
Castletown's response to that setback was strong, as they hit four points without reply from the 13th to the 22nd minute to edge clear, with Jody O'Shaughnessy, Ben Brosnan, Robbie Brooks and Jonathan Bealin (free) doing the needful (0-6 to 1-2).
The game swung in the other direction though in the lead-up to half-time as Rioghan Crosbie knocked over two frees on either side of the best Glynn-Barntown point of the game when two members of the full-back line joined the attack.
Stephen Lyne fed Nigel Usher before accepting the return pass and splitting the posts, and those three late scores left the Wexford District side 1-5 to 0-6 clear, and with a one-man advantage, for the second-half.
It had looked earlier like Danny Gardiner's involvement in the game would end owing to a back injury, but instead he collected those two yellows in the space of eight minutes after incidents involving Brendan Doyle and Mark Fanning whose names also entered the notebook.
The Castletown mentors knew that experienced campaigners would be needed to guide them to a third title on the trot, and who better to turn to in the circumstances than Colm Morris and James Holmes, both of whom were introduced at the break?
Morris is a tremendous tackler for a small man, combining power with a knack for perfect timing.
His precence at centre-back was certainly beneficial, and a quickfire burst of 1-1 on the re-start restored the north county side's lead.
Jody O'Shaughnessy picked out Conor Carty for a point, and a fluffed kick-out left a clear opening on goal for the former who availed of the gift to solo clear and bury the ball in the net (1-7 to 1-5).
Two Michael O'Regan frees brought Glynn-Barntown level, and for the remainder of the half it looked like extra-time was on the cards as the gap never rose higher than one point.
Mark Fanning gave his team the lead, only for Jonathan Bealin to grab it back when his equalising free was followed by an effort from play, via a Stephen Maloney handpass.
Substitute Aaron Breen kicked a booming effort into the air and over the bar in the 49th minute to make it 1-9 each, but Jody O'Shaughnessy put Castletown in the driving seat once again.
Netminder Niall Hempenstall made a vital interception when Mark Fanning tried to find Michael O'Regan with a handpass, but another successful free from the latter left nothing in it once more in the 55th minute.
What proved to be the clinching point arrived from Ben Brosnan, and it was enough even though Jonathan Bealin missed a chance for an insurance score from a free in added time.
That was the last kick of the game though, with Glynn-Barntown disappointed that only one minute and 45 seconds extra was played in comparison to the five minutes and 15 seconds at the end of the first-half.
Incidentally, it was their first time to reach this final since 2004 when the game wasn't played and the title was awarded to Kilanerin after a Leinster Council appeal.
While Castletown had previously completed league doubles in 2006 and 2007, and 2010 and 2011, this was the first time for the club to claim a third title in succession.
The attention of both teams will turn quickly to their next championship games, as Castletown are set to play St. Martin's on August 10 while Glynn-Barntown will face Gusserane in a repeat of the 2016 final 24 hours later.
Castletown: Niall Hempenstall; Frank Roche, Peter Devine, Risteárd Kinsella; Pierce Maxwell, Colin Kennedy, Conor Carty (0-1); Danny Gardiner, Richard Farrell; Ben Brosnan (0-3, 1 '45), Jonathan Bealin (0-4, 3 frees), Jody O'Shaughnessy (capt., 1-2); Ross Bealin, Brendan Halpin, Robbie Brooks (0-1). Subs. - Killian Pierce for Kinsella (15), James Holmes for R. Bealin (HT), Colm Morris for Kennedy (HT), Stephen Maloney for Halpin (42), George Sunderland for Brooks (55), also Andrew Merrigan, David Deering, Joe Aherne, Gavin Stamp, Rory Heffernan, Darragh Brooks, Danny Dixon, Oisín Condren, Cian Bealin, Aaron Condren, Conor Cleary, James Flood, Shane Halpin, Anthony Masterson.
Glynn-Barntown: Richie Ryan; Stephen Lyne (0-1), Nigel Usher, Pádraig Donnelly; James Stafford, John Leacy (capt.), Alan Cowman; Brendan Doyle, Michael Doyle; Rioghan Crosbie (0-3 frees), Barry Doyle, Fionn Cooney; Mark Fanning (0-2), Michael O'Regan (0-3 frees), Robbie Dempsey (1-0). Subs. - Aaron Breen (0-1) for Cooney (42), Ian Moran for Barry Doyle (54), Matt Banville for Donnelly (56), Dylan Lyne for Crosbie (59), Aaron Kehoe for Fanning (60+1), also Shane Codd, David Clarke, Shane Doyle, Ben O'Shea.
Referee: Philip Murphy (Faythe Harriers).