Subs in top form as Glynn-Barntown bridge long gap
Junior Football Championship Final: Glynn-Barntown 2-9 Oylegate-Glenbrien 1-7
The contribution from the Glynn-Barntown bench was nothing short of fantastic in a rain-sodden O'Kennedy Park, New Ross, on Saturday as the club bridged a gap of 37 years since its sole previous Junior football championship triumph with an impressive come-from-behind win over Oylegate-Glenbrien in the Enniscorthy Farm Systems-sponsored final.
Junior soccer international Gary Delaney was the man of the moment in particular, as he struck a marvellous 2-4 off the bench to give the Wexford District side's second string Intermediate 'A' status for the first time ever.
Indeed, an impressive 2-6 of their winning tally of 2-9 arrived from substitutes, with Frankie Hynes and Dylan Lyne also chipping in with points.
The experienced Craig Doyle made a huge impact too after his half-time introduction as he repeatedly drove his side on from the middle third.
And to continue the theme of new faces contributing richly to the win, Stephen Lyne's first act after coming on was to make a timely interception that ultimately led to a penalty and the game-clinching goal.
It was another tough defeat for Oylegate-Glenbrien to take, just seven days after their relegation from Senior hurling, but they were outplayed to such an extent in the second-half that they were restricted to three pointed frees from Seamus Casey.
It had been a different story in the opening period when the Enniscorthy District men - sporting the Oulart-The Ballagh colours after losing a toss due to a clash of jerseys - went about establishing a deserved 1-4 to 0-2 interval lead.
They got the ideal early boost in their quest to win this title for the first time since 2012, as just under three minutes had elapsed when Jamie Reck beat a rival to the ball with a first-time kicked pass, and Conor Doyle was on hand to finish confidently to the net.
Seamus Casey followed up with the first of his five pointed frees after a foul on Tom White, but Jamie Crean earned and converted a placed ball at the other end to get Glynn-Barntown off the mark.
A good crossfield pass by David Roche found Matthew Joyce in the 16th minute, and his off-load was sent over the bar by centre-forward Jack Brazill.
However, Glynn-Barntown didn't score again before half-time, even though they had ample possession and the experienced Michael Doyle was influential at midfield.
Ger Dempsey also looked very composed at centre-back, but the trouble was that too much of the team's passing was lateral, and there wasn't sufficient penetration to put pressure on the Oylegate-Glenbrien defence.
The Enniscorthy District men didn't kick any wides before the break, and three points on the bounce between the 22nd and 28th minutes from Casey (free), Damien Reck from a Casey pass, and then Casey from play, left them with that 1-4 to 0-2 half-time lead.
Most neutrals were wondering at that stage how Glynn-Barntown could afford to keep Gary Delaney and Craig Doyle on the bench when the game was in danger of slipping away from them.
However, manager Cathal Leacy plus selectors Jim Ryan and Noel McCormack had remained loyal to a starting 15 that had got them to this stage, and in fairness they knew exactly what they were doing.
Delaney was brought on just before the break, and the title bid was further boosted by the introduction of Doyle and Frankie Hynes before the start of the second period.
In five years of covering soccer matches in Ferrycarrig Park, the towering Delaney has been the best all-round Wexford-born player I've seen, bar none, in the home club's jersey.
Now with North End, and recently capped by the Republic of Ireland Junior team, soccer may always be his number one game, but his versatility and all-round ability was clear for all to see in this contest.
His first touch of the ball arrived two and a half minutes into the new half, and it was responsible for the complete transformation of the game.
Jack Brazill sent in a cross from the left at the dressing-room end, and Delaney timed his run into the square to perfection and fisted the ball to the net.
And although the goalscorer then missed his first free, Brazill pointed one after a foul on Matthew Joyce before Seamus Casey pulled one back for Oylegate-Glenbrien in the 37th minute (1-5 to 1-3).
Delaney played a one-two with Calum O'Shea before pointing via the post, and a black card for Paudie Casey then robbed the eventual losers of one of their more capable young footballers.
The Glynn-Barntown equaliser in the 43rd minute was started and finished by a substitute, with Craig Doyle kicking long to Matthew Joyce whose popped pass found Frankie Hynes on the run, and he fired over from the left flank (1-5 each).
Oylegate-Glenbrien managed to briefly stem the tide at the start of the last quarter, with Seamus Casey knocking over two frees from three attempts, while Eoghan Herlihy also kicked their sole wide of the entire game in that period.
One still sensed that Glynn-Barntown had the capacity to produce a title-winning finish, and so it proved as they reeled off 1-4 on the bounce in the last nine minutes plus added time.
A Michael Doyle mark kick-started the move that saw Dylan Lyne register a point with his first touch, and Gary Delaney then levelled once more from a free taken off the ground (1-7 each).
A foul on Craig Doyle led to Delaney repeating the dose, this time from just outside the 45-metre line, and the arrival of Stephen Lyne then played a huge role in the game-clinching goal.
After intercepting the ball on the left flank in the 57th minute, he passed to Jack Brazill and kept going. And after getting the return, he was hauled down by netminder Eddie Mernagh who was yellow-carded by efficient referee Matty Kinnaird - handling his first-ever adult county final - before Glynn-Barntown had the chance to win it from the penalty spot.
Delaney was the obvious choice to take the kick, and his powerful drive duly rattled the net to leave Oylegate-Glenbrien with no way back.
Just for good measure, the super-sub brought his personal haul to 2-4 after a foul on Dylan Lyne, ensuring that corner-back and captain Shane Codd accepted the cup afterwards from Noel Kehoe of Enniscorthy Farm Systems.
To put things in perspective, when Glynn-Barntown won this title for the first time in 1982 at Réalt na Mara's expense, it was with their first team.
That was the success that transformed the club into what it is today in football terms, one of the strongest in the county with an array of young talent coming through, as evidenced by their Senior semi-final appearance and their upcoming Wexford People Minor Premier final with Naomh Eanna.
And now, together with Kilanerin, they will have the highest-graded second teams of the twelve Senior clubs when they take their place in Intermediate 'A' ranks for the first time in 2020.
They had seven wides on Saturday, with just one from Oylegate-Glenbrien as stated, while the 48 frees were divided on an equal 24-24 basis.
Glynn-Barntown: Adam O'Leary; Shane Codd (capt.), Murtagh Joyce, Barry Ryan; David Roche, Ger Dempsey, Bill Joyce; Calum O'Shea, Michael Doyle; Jamie Crean (0-1 free), Jack Brazill (0-2, 1 free), Ian Moran; Darragh Nolan, Pádraic Wafer, Matthew Joyce. Subs. - Gary Delaney (2-4, 1-0 pen., 0-3 frees) for Nolan (30+1), Craig Doyle for Crean, inj. (HT), Frankie Hynes (0-1) for B. Joyce (HT), Dylan Lyne (0-1) for Moran (50), Stephen Lyne for Roche (56), Ciarán Joyce for Matthew Joyce (60+2), also Richie Ryan, Cormac Cooney, Cillian Joyce, Ben O'Shea, John Lacey, Garbhan MacCormack, Conor Clarke, Luke Codd.
Oylegate-Glenbrien: Eddie Mernagh; Robert O'Connor, Mike Kelly, Paudie Casey; Fergal Doran, Shane Reck, Jamie Reck; Eoghan Herlihy, Tom White; Jack Reck, Damien Reck (0-1), Ciarán Hourihane (capt.); Fiachra Hourihane, Conor Doyle (1-0), Seamus Casey (0-6, 5 frees). Subs. - Mark Kavanagh for P. Casey, black card (39), Pierce Murphy for D. Reck, inj. (46), Conor Heffernan for White (60+4), also Lee Kehoe, Barry Dunne, Adrian Nolan, Pa Moorehouse, Trevor Moulton, Peter Rowley, Pádraic O'Connor, Podge Doran, Adam Gethings, Jim White.
Referee: Matty Kinnaird (Starlights).