Starlights shake shackles
Starlights 1-12 Sarsfields 1-6
A 44th-minute penalty from Dillon Redmond helped Starlights to eventually shake off the shackles as they stuttered past struggling Sarsfields in Group A of the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship in Bree on Friday.
With the Wexford town side leading by 0-5 to 0-3 at the break in a tight game, it looked like they could kick on and get a morale-boosting first win on the board before the relegation final.
However, their limitations were badly exposed after the break, and once Redmond fired Starlights in front from the spot midway through the second-half, they never looked like being able to muster up enough to claw their way back into the game.
The first 30 minutes was dire fare, with both sides guilty of wayward shooting, with some of the decision-making also questionable as players opted to take aim at the posts when the shot just wasn't on.
Starlights did manage to work the scoreboard a couple of times in the first five minutes, with Eamonn Furlong and Alan Tobin (free) finding the range, but the Wexford town side forged ahead by the twelfth minute, thanks to a Lee Chin free and a couple of nice David Mooney points.
Eleven scoreless minutes followed, as shots either drifted off target or landed harmlessly into the goalkeepers' hands, until Dillon Redmond ended the blight with a beauty of a score from the left sideline to draw Starlights level.
Sarsfields responded well though, and brought a two-point cushion into the interval thanks to a brace of Lee Chin frees.
Having only managed three points in the entire first-half, Starlights plundered two in as many minutes at the start of the second, as a disputed Richie Farrell score and a booming Liam Ryan effort quicky wiped out the deficit.
A Chin free edged Sarsfields back in front but Starlights began to dominate in the possession stakes, and after substitute Tomás Mahon saw his effort at a point come back off the angle of post and crossbar in the 39th minute, they were handed a gilt-edged opportunity four minutes later.
Eamonn Furlong was adjudged to have been fouled in the square and Dillon Redmond stepped up and drilled the spot-kick to goalkeeper Philly Cullen's right to make it 1-5 to 0-6.
It was the boost Starlights needed and they finally began to play with a bit of a swagger as Redmond and Alan Tobin quickly added fine points.
Tomás Mahon went close to grabbing a second goal for the Enniscorthy men, when he gathered a Richie Farrell pass and saw his shot come back off the crossbar.
However, he did take the consolation prize, as he picked up the pieces to pop the ball over the crossbar.
It was wave after wave of Starlights attacks at this stage, with the Sarsfields defence all at sea, and they continued to knock over points to put the result beyond doubt.
Alan Tobin grabbed his third of the evening, Rory O'Connor strode forward and gathered a pinpoint pass from Tomás Mahon before popping it over the bar, and Ryan Mahon got in on the act in the 54th minute to make it 1-11 to 0-6.
Sarsfields were given the opportunity to grab a consolation goal when Michael Hanrahan was unceremoniously upended and referee Brendan Holohan awarded a penalty.
Lee Chin confidently converted the 57th-minute spot-kick, but it was never going to ignite the flames of a comeback and Dillon Redmond rounded off the scoring with an injury time point.
Starlights: Pa Doyle; Rory O'Connor (0-1), Tom Wall, Mel Doyle; Kevin Foley, Anthony Roche, Jack Kelly; Liam Ryan (0-1), Richie Farrell (0-1); Alan Tobin (0-3, 1 free), Killian Lett, Dillon Redmond (1-3, 1-0 pen.); Darragh Pepper, Eamonn Furlong (0-1), Ryan Mahon (0-1). Subs. - Tomás Mahon (0-1) for Lett, Jason Russell for Kelly, Brendan Kearney for Roche.
Sarsfields: Philip Cullen; Conor Halligan, Cillian Lawlor, Fiach O Crualaoich; Shane Hall, Michael Hanrahan, Jack Robinson; Ciarán Byrne, Eoin Roche; Dylan Furlong, Lee Chin (1-4, 0-4 frees, 1-0 pen.), Cathal Kirwan; John Bridges, David Mooney (0-2), Fran Cleary. Subs. - Kevin Gore for Roche, Brendan Mulligan for Halligan, Ciarán Kirwan for Bridges (black card).
Referee: Brendan Holohan (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown).