Shels deliver a knockout blow
Shelmaliers 1-12 Gusserane 0-11
A stellar showing from Eoghan Nolan helped Shelmaliers to dethrone champions Gusserane in a high-energy Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship quarter-final in Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.
The sharp-shooter contributed 1-6 of the Over The Water side's tally as their pace and movement just proved too hot to handle for the deposed flag-bearers.
Nolan's superbly-taken goal early in the second-half was the pivotal score of the game, putting real daylight between the sides (1-8 to 0-6) and, try as they might, Gusserane never really looked like being able to bridge the gap thereafter.
In truth, Shelmaliers could well have garnered a more comfortable victory, had they been able to summon up a killer instinct, particularly when totally on top in the opening quarter, as they kicked five wides in a row, efforts that had they gone over surely would have knocked the stuffing out of Gusserane before the interval.
However, developing that ruthlessness is something for the Shels to work on for the next day and Gusserane are nothing if not gutsy, recovering from falling four behind inside the opening six minutes to claw their way back to parity at the break at six points apiece.
Even after the sucker-punch of Nolan's 35th-minute goal they continued to display their undoubted battling qualities, picking off the next three points in a row to get back within two, but that was as close as they could get, with the Shels showing cool heads to close out the game.
They may have had to show sub-zero coolness to get over the line, but they began the game with the rampant ferocity of the fires of hell, racing into a four-point lead inside six minutes, with Brian Murphy and Simon Donohoe scoring and Eoghan Nolan twice splitting the posts, first from a placed ball and then contributing a good point on the run.
They could have been even further ahead at that point, but Conor Hearne's fifth-minute effort on goal was well saved by netminder Micheál Ryan.
Mark Rossiter steadied the Gusserane nerves with a good score off his left in the eighth minute, but Shelmaliers continued to win most of the 50-50 balls, although they failed to make the most of their early superiority, with their radar temporarily awry as they hit five wides in succession.
Who else but Eoghan Nolan ended that barren spell in the 17th minute, but Gusserane dug deep and gradually began to claw their way back into the contest.
Sam Wall, who had entered the fray in the twelfth minute to replace the injured Liam Dillon, gathered a pass from Graeme Cullen and popped over a nice point, before Shane Cullen converted a free to bring Gusserane back within two.
Eoghan Nolan knocked over his fourth point to make it 0-6 to 0-3 on 23 minutes, but the New Ross District men dragged themselves level by the break, with Mark Rossiter beginning the revival with a booming point, Jack Burford confidently arrowing over a 45-metre free, and Seán Ryan expertly converting after a swift turn.
Shelmaliers began the second-half as they had the first, quickly working the scoreboard when the Malones combined, with Brian putting Glen in the clear and the latter fisted over the bar.
Moments later Eoghan Nolan converted a free and then came the all-important goal with 34 minutes on the clock.
Brian Malone plundered possession and ran with menace through the heart of the Gusserane defence.
He handpassed to the inrushing Eoghan Nolan to his right, and he never looked like turning down the opportunity, angling a drive past goalkeeper Ryan.
Gusserane could have been forgiven for throwing in the towel, but they showed to devastating effect last year that it's not over until the fat lady sings and Mark Rossiter re-ignited their hopes with an eye-catching point from the right wing.
Adrian Redmond followed suit in the 43rd minute, with Seán 'Mini' Ryan doing likewise and all of a sudden they were right back in the race (1-8 to 0-9).
However, the Shels steadied the ship, with Glen Malone knocking over a carbon copy of his earlier score and Eoghan Nolan racing clear and popping over a point to stretch the lead out to four.
Shane Cullen and Mark Rossiter converted frees either side of a fine point from substitute Craig McCabe to leave just a kick of a ball between the sides in injury time, but Páraic O'Leary bagged the insurance point to seal the deal for Shelmaliers.
Shelmaliers: Aodhán Foley; Cian Manley, James Cash, Graham Staples; Andre O'Brien, Ciarán O'Shaughnessy, Tommy Barron; Brian Murphy (0-1), Aidan Cash; Eoghan Nolan (1-6, 0-2 frees), Brian Malone, Simon Donohoe (0-1); Eoin Doyle, Glen Malone (0-2), Conor Hearne. Subs. - Colin Cleary for Hearne, Páraic O'Leary (0-1) for Barron, Barry O'Connor for Doyle, Craig McCabe (0-1) for Murphy, Conor Walsh for G. Malone.
Gusserane: Micheál Ryan; Jack Burford (0-1 free), Liam Dillon, Jack O'Connor; Mark O'Neill, Graeme Cullen, Gavin Sheehan; John Roche, Cillian Kehoe; Adrian Redmond (0-1), Páraic Conway, Mark Rossiter (0-4, 1 free); Shane Cullen (0-2 frees), Paul Wall, Seán Ryan (0-2). Subs. - Sam Wall (0-1) for Dillon, Kenneth Cahill for P. Wall, Tom Foran for Roche.
Referee: Kevin Carty (Sarsfields).