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Saturday 16 December 2017

SHELS PUSH ON FOR LEINSTER

SHELMALIER 2-13 SENESCHALSTOWN (MEATH) 1-7

In Hollymount

Sandy Carr fires home the first Shelmalier goal in their 2-13 to 1-7 win over Seneschalstown from Meath in the Leinster Club Senior ladies' football semi-final in Hollymount on Saturday last. SHELMALIER STRODE with confidence into a first Leinster Club Senior ladies' football championship final since 2003 with an impressive pillar to post victory over their conquerors nine years ago, Seneschalstown of Meath, in pleasant conditions in Hollymount on Saturday last.

The wind-aided home side set about dismantling the lofty reputation of their rivals from the throw-in and never looked back after scoring 1-3 without reply in the first quarter. It was an accomplished display by the hosts who will realise that another step-up in form will be required to overcome Foxrock-Cabinteely of Dublin in the decider on November 4.

The strong team ethic and workrate was evident throughout, with Shelly Doyle the stand-out performer in a defensive unit which really excelled. The opposition found themselves with no time on the ball and turned over a large amount of possession through poor handling and misplaced passes as a result.

The fact that seven of the eight Shels starters from midfield up scored from play sums up the range of options available to them, and it's worth noting that the only one who didn't hit the target, Deirdre McMahon, provided the final pass for the first three scores which gave them the impetus to drive on.

She picked out Mag Kelly and Tara Moloney for points in the sixth and eighth minutes before a wellworked goal hammered home that early advantage. Shauna Murphy made a vital interception in the right corner of the defence and transferred the ball quickly down the wing to McMahon. Her teasing delivery was gathered by Sandy Carr who had stolen a yard on her marker, and she finished coolly to the delight of the home crowd to widen the gap to five points.

Team captain Kate Kelly added a point, and the first two of just three wides before the break and five in all followed before Seneschalstown's opening score arrived in the 19th minute. Fiona Mahon's pass was controlled by Amy Gilsenan on the endline, and Fiona Cullen's tackle resulted in a penalty which was slotted home to Laura Corrigan's left by the visitors' liveliest forward, Stacey Grimes (1-3 to 1-0).

Any question marks over which outfit was superior were quickly dispelled though with the sheer quality of the recovery from the Shels. Kate Kelly never fails to lead by example, and she popped over another point before sending a low shot to the net a mere 40 seconds later after catching a Bridget Curran cross from the left flank.

Leona Tector chipped in with a point to make it 2-5 to 1-0 before a delay of a couple of minutes for an injury seemed to knock the leaders out of their stride a little as they were outpointed by three to one before the break. Fiona Mahon (play and free) and Amy Gilsenan hit the target for Seneschalstown while Kellie Kearney kicked the sole score in reply, although it took a fine save from Louise Byrne to deny Mag Kelly a goal after Leona Tector put her through in added time.

Leading by 2-6 to 1-3 at the interval after playing with the wind, it remained to be seen how Shelmalier would cope with the pressure that one expected a Seneschalstown side powered by the sisters of mentor and Meath footballer Joe Sheridan, all six footplus, to exert. Number three Mary Sheridan was moved to the middle of the field and the first point was kicked by Stephanie Byrne inside two minutes, but their revival was non-existent as the Shels played so well that the elements weren't a factor at all.

Although Amy Gilsenan was unlucky with a goal chance in the 37th minute, otherwise the third quarter was dominated by the leaders as they added points from Kate Kelly, Tara Moloney (free and play) and Leona Tector to widen the gap to a commanding 2-10 to 1-4.

Stacey Grimes and Fiona Mahon (free) briefly stopped the rot with points, but on the rare occasions when Seneschalstown looked threatening, the Shels simply went back up the field and responded with scores. Moloney (free), the prolific Kelly and Bridget Curran, moved to full-forward, all raised white flags before Mahon managed one reply, with four late substitutes introduced before Curran dragged another goal chance to the right and wide in added time.

Leinster Club campaigns have been unknown territory for the Shels over the past three years, simply because they are no longer tested by any of their opponents in Wexford with all due respect to the teams concerned. The provincial first round win over Killoe was far from perfect although it brought the team on in leaps and bounds, but Saturday's success over the champions from a Senior county saw the bar being raised even higher and shows that they are moving in the right direction.

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