Castletown hopes denied by goal-getter Gaffney
Castletown were put to the sword by a sensational individual performance from Niall Gaffney as An Tóchar took the Irish Pride Féile Peil na nÓg Division 3 Shield at Éire Óg on Sunday.
An Tochar 3-2 Castletown 0-5
The talented attacker scored 3-1 and was the focal point of his side's gameplan. He proved simply unstoppable, and no matter what the north Wexford side tried to curtail his influence it just wasn't possible.
All in all it was an extremely entertaining final. Both sides went out there with the belief that they could take the title home and played with the energy, vision and talent that suggested that either club could win.
Castletown, who beat St. Patrick's (Wicklow) and Ferns St. Aidan's on the way to the final, dominated much of the opening half and must have been stunned to go in at the interval down by a point (1-1 to 0-3).
The eight wides in the 30 minutes didn't help the runners-up, with most of those coming in the first-half. Castletown talisman Mark Boyle opened the scoring in the second minute and was then involved with Saul McGarr when Mark Doyle cracked the crossbar moments later.
The Roundwood lads responded with a Darragh Fee point in their first attack but were living dangerously again a minute later when Seán Dowling and Doyle combined to send Andrew Nolan flying across the goal to sensationally save.
A warning shot was fired when Gaffney got through and smacked the post as the half wore on but it wasn't heeded. Castletown pointed through Boyle and Darragh Canavan but it was An Tóchar hot-shot Gaffney who ended the half by forcing home his first goal at the second attempt.
The great Gaffney started the second like he finished the first, and this time it was a cracking strike from fully 25-yards that flew past David Byrne to the Slaneysiders' net. He followed his second goal with a classy point three minutes later (2-2 to 0-3).
Doyle forced Nolan into another superb save to keep An Tóchar well in front but Castletown did chip away with a brace from Boyle.
The Wexford club drove forward in waves but the Wicklow side stood firm at the back. They wrapped up the Shield on the counter-attack when, fittingly, Gaffney completed his hat-trick and a memorable day for his club with an audacious long-range clincher.
An Tochar: Andrew Nolan; Marc Walsh, Eoin Murphy, Seán Leacy; Jack Lawlor, Cian McHugh, Kian Brady; Oisín Cullen, Gavin Fogarty; Ciarán Byrne, Tarla Fanning, Mark Curley; Jordan Brady, Niall Gaffney (3-1), Darragh Fee (0-1). Subs. - Bobby Brady for Curley (11), Dale Brady for Leacy (11), Roan Hayes for Byrne (21), Niall Byrne for Fee (21), also Sam Ireland, Reece Scott, Luke Kenny, Robert Byrne.
Castletown: David Byrne; Kevin Cleary, Darragh Heffernan, Dylan Goland; Geoffrey Lande, Brian O'Leary, Dylan Farrell; Seán O'Loughlin, Seán Dowling; Mark Boyle (0-4), Mark Doyle, Saul McGirr; Darragh Canavan (0-1), Alex Murphy, Seán O'Hagan. Subs. - Sam Cody for Goland (12), Colm Meenagh for Murphy (21), Eoin Coleman for O'Hagan (21), also Andy Kinsella, Cathal O Dubhlaing, Joe Barrett, Joseph Roche, Seán Og Stafford, Tom Kavanagh.
Referee: David Hickey (Carlow).