Defending champions Shelmaliers have been dethroned from the Dominic Smith Electrical county SFC by 2016 winners Gusserane following Sunday’s tense quarter-final showdown at Innovate Wexford Park.
While things appeared extremely daunting for Gusserane after Shelmaliers had burst clear by 1-5 to 0-2 inside nine minutes, the challengers demonstrated tremendous tenacity thereafter to carve out a merited surprise as they secured a rematch of the 2016 county final against Glynn-Barntown.
After trading opening points, the Shels looked to be justifying their short-odds to advance once they charged clear by 1-5 to 0-2, as Eoghan Nolan, Jody Donohoe, Tiarnan Neville and James Cash pointed, before Brian Malone put Eoin Doyle through to drive to the town-end net.
Few would have been predicted the Gusserane uprising which followed, and the fight-back was quickly set in motion through a succession of Gusserane points before John Roche and Páraic Conway combined to feed Mark Rossiter, who cleverly flicked the ball over the ‘keeper and to the Clonard-end net to turn the tables by 1-8 to 1-6 on 24 minutes.
Shelmaliers pulled level on 1-8 apiece by the 28th-minute through Eoghan Nolan (free) and Páraic O’Leary, but Gusserane regained the whip-hand at half-time as Seán Ryan and Sam Wall reaffirmed the blue-and-gold’s intentions (1-10 to 1-8).
Gusserane embellished their hopes early in the second-half when Mark Rossiter buried his second personal goal to stretch the margin to 2-10 to 1-8.
Shelmaliers nibbled at the deficit, which was down to the minimum midway through the second-half (2-12 to 1-14) thanks to Conor Hearne, Glen Malone (2), Jody Donohoe, James Cash and Páraic O’Leary.
But as much as Shelmaliers kept trying to nudge them, there was absolutely no budging this determined Gusserane collective which confidently held firm to score the first major upset of the 2019 Wexford championships with no small degree of merit.
There were some unseemly scenes towards the finish – including after the full-time whistle – and ‘early baths’ for a number of players. But thankfully peace was quickly restored.
Gusserane – Michael Ryan; Gavin Sheehan, Jack Burford, Jack O’Connor; Adrian Redmond, Mark O’Neill, Graeme Cullen (capt.); Cillian Kehoe, John Roche (0-1); Kenneth Cahill, Mark Rossiter (2-3), Páraic Conway (0-4); Adrian Flynn (0-2), Sam Wall (0-3), Seán Ryan (0-4).
Subs: Shane Cullen (0-1) for Adrian Redmond (44); Fintan Ryan for Kenneth Cahill (55); Shane Flynn for Cillian Kehoe (56); Eoin Ryan for Mark Rossiter (black-card, 60+4).
Shelmaliers – Adam Howlin; Dan Campbell, James Cash (0-2), André O’Brien; Simon Donohoe (0-1 free), Brian Malone, Arnie Murphy; Glen Malone (0-6, 3 frees), Eoghan Nolan (0-2, free and ’45); Tiarnan Neville (0-1), Eoin Doyle (1-1), Seán Keane-Carroll (0-1); Paráic O’Leary (0-2), Craig McCabe, Jody Donohoe (0-2).
Subs: Conor Hearne (0-1) for Tiarnan Neville (27); Graham Staples for Craig McCabe (40); AJ Lehane for Simon Donohoe (50); Ross Banville for Sean Keane-Carroll (55); Simon Donohoe for Arnie Murphy (59).
Referee – Kevin Carty (Sarsfields).