Shels saunter to fourth scalp
GAA: Tom Doyle Supplies SFC - Shelmaliers 1-13 Gusserane 1-6
Shelmaliers sauntered to four wins out of four in Group B of the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship as they comfortably kept a struggling Gusserane outfit at arm's length in Innovate Wexford Park.
The Over The Water side are expected by most observers to go deep into the competition, but on Saturday they never really had to get out of third gear, and could even afford to be wasteful on occasion.
Had they taken their chances early in the contest they would have been out of sight before the shrill of the half-time whistle.
The 2016 champions look a shadow of their former selves, and apart from a brief spell early in the game when they drew level thanks to a rather fortuitous goal, they never threatened to seriously trouble their opponents.
Having lost heavily to Glynn-Barntown in their previous outing, Gusserane surely craved a decent start to mend their wounded confidence, but it was Shels that came out all guns blazing, getting 1-1 on the board by the fourth minute.
Jody Donohoe split the posts after just 30 seconds and they rubber-stamped their early supremacy with a goal three minutes later. A.J. Lehane fed Craig McCabe and he moved the ball quickly to the inrushing Eoin Doyle, who slid the ball low to the net.
However, Gusserane were back on level terms within two minutes. After Páraic Conway converted a free they got the piece of good fortune they needed to plunder a goal.
When an Adrian Redmond effort at a point fell short goalkeeper Graham Lawlor Ryan failed to gather and Gavin Sheehan stuck out his left leg to steer the ball to the net from close range.
Shelmaliers were quickly back in their stride though, and despite missing a host of scoring opportunities they managed to build up a 1-9 to 1-3 advantage by the break, with the busy Craig McCabe grabbing five points of their first-half tally.
Conor Hearne, Eoghan Nolan and Brian Malone also helped to keep the scoreboard ticking over, while an eye-catching Sam Wall effort was the highlight of a pretty sombre opening 30 minutes for Gusserane.
Shelmaliers tagged on the first two points of the second-half, through Eoghan Nolan and Eoin Doyle and it was pretty clear that the O'Rahilly's men would never be able to bridge the yawning gap between the sides.
They did keep plugging away though, and two quick-fire points from Páraic Conway cancelled out those scores, but Shelmaliers continued to do enough in a low-scoring second period.
They did fluff a couple of goal chances, with Brian Malone seeing his effort well saved by Micheál Ryan in the 58th minute, while moments later Seán Keane-Carroll was put in the clear by fellow substitute Páuric O'Leary, but he badly miscued his effort, with Andre O'Brien picking up the pieces to fist the ball over the bar.
Although they undoubtedly still have plenty of room for improvement, Shelmaliers will go into the quarter-finals high on confidence, while Gusserane have to dust themselves down and go again for their must-win final group game against Taghmon-Camross.
Shelmaliers: Graham Lawlor Ryan; Andre O'Brien (0-1), James Cash, Dan Campbell; Simon Donohoe, Graham Staples, Aidan Cash; Eoghan Nolan (0-2), Brian Malone (0-1); Jody Donohoe (0-1), Eoin Doyle (1-1), Ross Banville; A.J. Lehane, Craig McCabe (0-6, 2 frees, 1 '45), Conor Hearne (0-1). Subs. - Cian Manley for Hearne (49), Páuric O'Leary for Cash (49), Seán Keane-Carroll for J. Donohoe (51).
Gusserane: Micheál Ryan; Eoin Ryan, Tommy Ryan, Jack O'Connor; Jack Burford, Liam Dillon, Adrian Redmond; John Roche, Killian Kehoe; Mark O'Neill, Kenneth Cahill, Gavin Sheehan (1-0); Tom Foran, Páraic Conway (0-4, 2 frees), Sam Wall (0-1). Subs. - Robbie Corcoran for Burford (30), Shane Cullen for Kehoe (36), Jamie Cooney (0-1) for Cahill (black card, 41), Kevin O'Donohue for Foran (53).
Referee: Seán Whelan (St. Martin's).