Oylegate-Glenbrien bounce back
Strong-starting winners hold off Anne's fightback
Oylegate-Glenbrien's immediate return to the higher grade appeared to be in the bag at half-time in St. Patrick's Park on Saturday when they led St. Anne's by ten points in the Enniscorthy Farm Systems Junior 'A' football championship final.
Oylegate-G'Brien 1-15 St. Anne's 1-9
However, the side which endured successive relegations from Intermediate 'A' and Junior after winning the latter grade in 2012 had to ward off a spirited comeback before getting their hands on the Duffin-Browne Memorial Cup.
Indeed, St. Anne's had the deficit down to three points entering the last quarter, but Oylegate-Glenbrien regained momentum and picked off the last three scores without reply to justify the tag of favourites.
The Enniscorthy District side completely dominated most of the first period, with a powerful and pacey half-back trio of Bryan McCormack, the excellent Damien Reck, and Mark Kavanagh driving them on. In addition, St. Anne's netminder Noel Simpson had the twin midfield towers of Jim White and Podge Doran to contend with for every kick-out and, with Oylegate-Glenbrien pushing up and applying pressure at all times, it was mainly one-way traffic.
Doran fired his side into the lead after 70 seconds before former Monageer-Boolavogue marksman Marty Kelly doubled their advantage. The St. Anne's cause wasn't helped by the loss of ex-county Minor Tony McDonnell to an early injury, and they continued to labour as Mark Kavanagh, Podge Doran and Conor Heffernan left their rivals five clear by the end of the first quarter.
St. Anne's finally opened their account in the 17th minute from a Shane Mythen free, but netminder Noel Simpson had to be alert shortly afterwards with a smart save after Seamus Casey intercepted a pass and put Kavanagh in the clear.
More sloppy defending ended with Marty Kelly widening the gap to 0-6 to 0-1, and perhaps the relative similarity of the blue jerseys was a factor for the amount of misplaced passes all night under the Enniscorthy floodlights.
St. Anne's midfielders Gordon Simpson and Patrick O'Brien combined before Liam O'Neill grabbed their first point from play in the 21st minute, but they conceded a further 1-3 without response prior to the break to trail by 1-9 to 0-2.
Adrian Nolan nearly got a decisive touch on a Conor Heffernan cross to the far post and then picked out Jim White for a point, with Marty Kelly tapping over a close-in free before Heffernan got his second score.
Oylegate-Glenbrien had those nine points on the board before their first wide, a glaring goal miss from Peadar O'Mahoney after a powerful run from defence by Lee Kehoe in the 27th minute.
However, they did rattle the net on their next attack of note when Marty Kelly thumped in a line ball from the right which was gathered by Damien Reck, and the all-action centre-back - still a Minor - was rewarded for his non-stop movement with a confident finish.
Oylegate-Glenbrien kicked their fifth of eight wides in all (St. Anne's had four, all in the opening half) before the sides shared the first four points on the re-start.
Efforts for St. Anne's from Gordon Simpson and Liam O'Neill were cancelled out by dual county Minor Seamus Casey and Podge Doran (free) respectively as the gap remained at ten.
However, the St. Anne's revival got under way in earnest midway through the third quarter when a clever knockdown by Conor Kavanagh gave midfielder Patrick O'Brien an opening and he drilled the ball past Conor Doyle to narrow the gap to 1-11 to 1-4.
Wily veteran Francis Simpson added a point and, though Adrian Nolan briefly stalled the momentum with a white flag at the other end, St. Anne's went on to add an unanswered four points in the space of just three minutes.
The momentum altered completely as Liam O'Neill (free) made it 1-12 to 1-6 before Simpson added three more points, the first two from play.
Suddenly Oylegate-Glenbrien had a serious amount of work to do in order to get their club's name on the cup, but in fairness they responded with a much-improved closing ten minutes. Seamus Casey settled them down with a point before substitute Jamie Reck raced on to a St. Anne's kick-out and thundered straight down the middle to split the posts.
The St. Anne's revival had been effectively quelled, and a late free from Casey left six between the sides at the finish.
Whether the winners devote more time and effort to football in 2016 remains to be seen, but no doubt they will be keen to build on the momentum created by this victory after two poor seasons.
Oylegate-Glenbrien: Conor Doyle; Fergus Heffernan, Robert O'Connor, Lee Kehoe; Bryan McCormack, Damien Reck (1-0), Mark Kavanagh (0-1); Podge Doran (0-3, 1 free), Jim White (capt., 0-1); Adrian Nolan (0-1), Marty Kelly (0-3, 1 free), Shane Reck; Conor Heffernan (0-2), Peadar O'Mahoney, Seamus Casey (0-3, 1 free). Subs. - Peter Nolan for O'Mahoney (HT), Jamie Reck (0-1) for C. Heffernan (37), Anthony Doyle for S. Reck (47), Kieran Lambert for White, inj. (60), also Ciarán Hourihane, Patrick Cullen, Shane Lambert, Brian Doran, M.J. Reck, Eddie Mernagh, Ciarán O'Brien, John Lambert.
St. Anne's: Noel Simpson; Jack Moore, Tomás Byrne (capt.), David Kavanagh; Kevin White, Tony McDonnell, Seamus Mythen; Patrick O'Brien (1-0), Gordon Simpson (0-1); Liam O'Neill (0-3, 1 free), Niall Doyle, Niall Gilbane; Shane Mythen (0-1 free), Conor Kavanagh, Francis Simpson (0-4, 1 free). Subs. - Conor Hannigan for McDonnell, inj. (6), Josh Cloney for Shane Mythen (34), Ben Moore for C. Kavanagh (49), Paul Martin for Doyle, inj. (60), also Michael O'Brien, David Kelly, Paul McDonnell, Wayne Hayes, Jim Dwyer, Gavin Howlett, Michael Cloney, Neil Roche, Fergal Parle, Gearóid Finn, Michael Roche, Roy Nunn, Seán Redmond, Vincent Carroll, Ian Bennett, Jess Codd, Graham Holmes, Kevin Redmond.
Referee: Billy Dodd (Sarsfields).