Shelmaliers 2-11, Kilanerin 2-11
Simon Donohoe left a truly memorable mark on Shelmaliers’ maiden appearance in the Tom Doyle Supplies county senior football championship final when coming to their rescue with two late points to deny seven-time champions Kilanerin in Sunday’s thrilling showpiece at an idyllic Innovate Wexford Park.
Shelmaliers could have been rattled when they lost full-back James Cash to a second yellow-card on 50 minutes at a stage when Kilanerin hit them for 1-2 without reply to seize the initiative by 2-11 to 2-8 in this intriguing encounter.
But Benny McCabe’s Shels displayed cool nerves, as Craig McCabe pegged back a pointed free in advance of wing-back Simon Donohoe bridging the gap, as he defied physics with a sublime point from the right corner-flag on 57 minutes before he intervened with the draw-clincher in the fourth-minute of added-time to set up a replay next Saturday.
One of the most well attended finals of its kind in years was a tremendous credit to both sides, with fortunes ebbing and flowing right to the final blasts of referee John Carton’s whistle.
The fancied Shels were quick out of the traps when fashioning a 0-2 to 0-0 lead inside seven minutes as captain Eoin Doyle delivered a couple of tidy finishes.
However, the black-and-amber encountered stubborn resistance from a superbly disciplined Kilanerin rearguard before the north county men, in their first SFC final since 2010, turned the game on its head by 1-4 to 0-2 after 23 minutes as braces from both Matty Forde and Niall Hughes were added to by Forde boxing a delivery from Conor Devitt to the Clonard-end net.
But Shelmaliers kept pressing and eventually electrified matters as they ended a 20-minute long scoring impasse in style when pouncing for two goals within the space of a minute to regain the lead by 2-3 to 1-4. Conor Hearne fed the rampaging Simon Donohoe to ram to the bottom far corner of the town-end net on 27 minutes, and moments later AJ Lehane made it 2-2 to 1-4 with a classy stabbed finish from point-blank range after being set up by Eoghan Nolan, before Brian Malone pointed them 2-3 to 1-4 clear.
Kilanerin responded with two more Matty Forde points in added-time – including a spectacular conversion from play out on the right wing – to tie matters on 1-6 to 2-3 at half-time.
Excitement was simply unrelenting in this fascinating duel, and although a Craig McCabe pointed free edged the Shels back in front on the re-start, Kilanerin re-asserted themselves by 1-9 to 2-4 after 38 minutes courtesy of Seán Forde, Niall Hughes and Peter Hughes as they eyed a first Wexford Creamery Cup success since 2008.
The roller-coaster ride wasn’t over though as Shelmaliers whirred back into command by 2-8 to 1-9 on 46 minutes with Craig McCabe (free), Eoghan Nolan and two Simon Donohoe gems having their connections dreaming of a famous first just a handful of years since celebrating their debut county senior hurling title, in 2014.
But it suddenly all seemed to be going horribly wrong for the Over-the-Water men when, moments after Matty Forde had pegged it back to 1-10 to 2-8 on 49 minutes with another audacious finish – this time from the left wing – the Shels saw James Cash dismissed on a second yellow-card before Forde converted the resultant free and then intercepted the kick-out to help feed Niall Hughes to find the town-end net for a 2-11 to 2-8 advantage on 50 minutes.
Shelmaliers demonstrated enormous resolve though as they patiently rescued a rematch, with Craig McCabe adding a third pointed free on 58 minutes, before Simon Donohoe cut the gap to the minimum on 59 minutes when he simply defied logic with an unbelievable point from the right corner-flag!
The drama extended right through to the fourth-minute of injury-time when, after a Shelmaliers’ free had fallen shy of the Clonard-end goal, the black-and-amber maintained the pressure to eventually mine the equaliser through Simon Donohoe in a fitting conclusion to an absolute cracker.
The replay next Saturday should be unmissable.
Shelmaliers – James Gordon; Ciarán O’Shaughnessy, James Cash, André O’Brien; Simon Donohoe (1-4), Glen Malone, Graham Staples; Eoghan Nolan (0-1), Brian Malone (0-1); Jody Donohoe, Eoin Doyle (capt., 0-2), Ross Banville; Conor Hearne, AJ Lehane (1-0), Craig McCabe (0-3 frees).
Subs: Seán Keane-Carroll for Hearne (40); Aidan Cash for J Donohoe (51); Páraic O’Leary for Banville (58);
Kilanerin – Tom Hughes; Aidan Jones (capt.), Colm Kavanagh, Rhys Owley; Denis Jones, Gavin O’Toole, Mark Boland; Niall Hughes (1-3), Niall Breen; Páraic Hughes, Seán Forde (0-1), Peter Hughes (0-1); Dean O’Toole, Matty Forde (1-6, 0-2 frees), Conor Devitt.
Subs: Mark Gethings for D Jones (42, black-card); Bobby Hughes for P Hughes (47); Emmett O’Toole for S Forde (47); Ben O’Connor for N Hughes (57, temp.); B O’Connor for D O’Toole (60).
Referee: John Carton (Monageer-Boolavogue