Starlights signal strong desire to hold on to title
Starlights 3-9 Glynn-Barntown 0-8
In recent years the modus operandi of most Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football champions has been to keep the confidence and momentum going into the following season but slowly fall off the pace and tumble away.
There's something about this Starlights team that screams something else entirely. They could actually be better this season, as they look like a side with everything needed to be repeat champions.
This should have been a real test of the Enniscorthy town club, as Glynn-Barntown had something to prove to opponents who beat them at a similar stage last season when they met in this Group B tie in Hollymount on Friday. However, apart from the opening ten minutes, this was mostly one-way traffic.
The frightening thing for Starlights' future opponents is that there's no easy answer. It's not stop the supply to him, or bottle up that lad and hey presto, everything is rosy; there's no one avenue to cut off, as they can hurt you all over the pitch.
Their wing-backs attack with gusto, their midfield is powerful and formidable, they move players around and get contributions across the forward lines. Their probing across the field simply wore Glynn-Barntown down.
The Killurin side came into the contest after a comfortable run-around against Taghmon-Camross, a performance in which they shredded their near neighbours and got important points on the board.
Whereas, in this contest, none of the six that started in the forwards scored. Frankly, they rarely looked like scoring.
Starlights are so athletic, so well drilled, that the gaps just weren't appearing inside the '30.
Only the huge boot of Michael O'Regan could dent the shield. As is often the case, he put on as fine an exhibition of shooting as you'd see these days in Wexford club football, but there's not enough magic in that well to beat a team as loaded as the Starlights.
Glynn-Barntown's best moments came as two Aaron Breen frees and O'Regan's 35-metre effort put them 0-3 to nil in front before their opponents had settled.
Starlights missed a couple of goal chances in the first quarter and didn't register themselves until Alan Tobin scored a free after Darragh Pepper was felled in the 15th minute.
Being county champions prevents frustration from setting in as you dominate possession but struggle to find the scores to go with it.
Starlights only got level in the 29th minute when Tobin nabbed his side's first from play. It left the game deadlocked at 0-4 each at the interval.
There was a clear sense that, if things continued in the same vein after the turnaround, Starlights would eventually make their superiority tell. They took their first lead in the 33rd minute when Dillon Redmond converted a dead-ball after another foul on Pepper.
The game was over as a contest a mere four minutes later. The first goal came when Pepper's point attempt dipped shot.
It landed at crossbar height and Matt Doyle couldn't get a grip, with the ball falling to James Carty who made no mistake from a couple of yards out.
Seconds later the Bellefield crew netted again. Ricky Fox was involved in the build-up, Carty provided the assist, and Nick Doyle sauntered through to apply the classy finish to put his team into a 2-5 to 0-4 lead.
O'Regan responded with a free but Starlights were now playing with great confidence.
Tobin, Kevin Foley and Jack Kelly all added points as the lead grew to nine at the start of the final quarter (2-8 to 0-5).
A couple of O'Regan points, including a sensational effort off his left from the right side, did slow Starlights' progress momentarily. What never looked likely was a Glynn-Barntown goal and, indeed, when the third of the game did come, it arrived at the other end.
In the 53rd minute, the tireless Kevin Foley did the hard work in midfield, and the ball found its way to Pepper.
He rounded his marker, broke through on goal and sent a classy finish past Doyle to give him the major his performance so dearly deserved.
A fine Tommy Foley point rounded out the scoring in added-time, giving Starlights victories of eight and ten points in the first two games. With Taghmon-Camross, Shelmaliers and St. James' to come, they must be red-hot favourites to top the group the way they are playing.
Starlights: Pa Doyle; Mel Doyle, Jack Kelly (0-1), Rory O'Connor; Kevin Foley (0-1), Ricky Fox, James Peare; Liam Ryan, Richie Farrell; Alan Tobin (0-4, 2 frees), Nick Doyle (1-0), Dillon Redmond (0-2 frees); Darragh Pepper (1-0), James Carty (1-0), Ryan Mahon. Subs. - Tommy Foley (0-1) for Farrell, inj. (57), Lenny Connolly for Foley (60+1).
Glynn-Barntown: Matt Doyle; Cian Neville, Pádraig Donnelly, Rowan White; Nigel Usher, John Leacy (capt.), Jack Fenlon; Aaron Breen (0-2 frees), Michael O'Regan (0-6, 3 frees); David Clarke, Brendan Doyle; Rioghan Crosbie; Robert Dempsey, James Stafford, Shane Wilde. Subs. - Barry Doyle for Crosbie (45), Stephen Lyne for Usher (54), Alan Cowman for Breen (57).
Referee: Seán Whelan (St. Martin's).