Shelmaliers 5-8 St. James' 4-6
Shelmaliers' hunger for goals proved crucial as the Hollymount side claimed the O'Loughlin Cup with a hard-earned victory over St. James' in St. Patrick's Park on Sunday.
After heavy rain made most pitches in the county soggy and extremely heavy underfoot, it was nice to see the Enniscorthy venue buck the trend, with a fantastic playing surface a key component in a fast, free-flowing game of Under-17 football.
On top of the condition of the ground, the open spaces provided by the 13-a-side game ensured attackers prospered and defenders had their work cut out for them throughout the 50 minutes.
These type of games tend to flow in the favour of whoever finds superior intensity at any particular point, and the Ramsgrange boys hit the ground running in the early stages.
With less than a minute gone, man of the match Owen Whitty showed his quality with a penetrating run that ended with him shooting in off the foot of Eoin McGrath's post.
With points from Thomas Barron, Keelan Foley and Rory Lynch thrown in, St. James' quickly built a 1-3 to nil lead.
Shelmaliers then had a little spell and they got back into the game when Dylan O'Neill nabbed the first of his major treble. Paul Hearne and Tiernan Malone cut the gap to one, but when Barron was fouled at the other end, Sam Wallace stepped up and converted a spot-kick.
From four points down, Shelmaliers hit back with two goals in five minutes to take their first lead.
Adam O'Leary broke upfield and smashed home the first before O'Neill added his second after a fine one-two with Tiernan Malone. The game was tied 3-3 each at the break after Lynch netted a screamer for St. James'.
Tricky Corey Lawlor, who had levelled with a point just before the interval, put his side ahead again after the resumption - they were never caught. O'Neill and Aodhán Byrne pointed before Malone netted to make it 4-6 to 3-3.
Despite a run started by Callum Gamble that saw St. James' kick three points in a row, Shelmaliers kept their opponents at arm's length with a Dylan O'Neill penalty.
Substitute Darren O'Neill increase the lead to a game-high eight with a late point, a score that meant Whitty's late major made no real difference to the outcome.
Shelmaliers: Eoin McGrath; Mark Doyle, Thomas O'Connor; Adam O'Leary (1-0), Darragh Malone, Evan Carr; Hugh Peter Manley, Aodhán Byrne (0-1); Paul Hearne (0-1), Tiernan Malone (1-1), Dylan O'Neill (3-2, 1-0 pen., 0-1 free); Louis Gainfort, Ryan Kielthy. Subs. - Corey Lawlor (0-2) for Kielthy (23), Kielthy for O'Leary (40), Darren O'Leary (0-1) for Gainfort (42), Darragh Howlin (capt.) for T. Malone (50+1), David Doyle for M. Doyle (50+1), Mark Scallan for Kielthy (50+2), Oisín Furlong for D. O'Leary (50+2), also Ciarán Rattigan-O'Neill, Seán Og Flanagan, Ryan Corrigan.
St. James': Alfie Eite; James Nolan, Daniel Behan; Rory Lynch (1-1), Ben McPhillips, Mark Whitty; Pádraig Barron (capt.), Owen Whitty (2-0); Darragh McPhillips, Keelan Foley (0-2), Sam Wallace (1-0 pen.); Josh White-Keating, Thomas Barron (0-2, 1 free). Subs. - Callum Gamble (0-1) for Wallace, inj. (19), Colum Fitzgerald for Behan, inj. (23), Behan for B. McPhillips, black card (42), also Ciarán McPhillips.
Referee: Shane Quinn (Réalt na Mara).