Castletown 3-16, Gusserane 2-10
Castletown overcame a searching test from 2016 champions Gusserane to join Volunteers on top of the Wexford SFC roll-of-honour with 11 outright victories after Sunday afternoon’s Dominic Smith Electrical county final triumph at Innovate Wexford Park.
‘Man of the match’ James Holmes was at the heart of operations with a personal salvo of 0-6 and an influential all-round contribution, while Jonathan Bealin, son of former Dublin star and ex-Wexford boss Paul, top-scored with 1-6 as Timmy Walsh’s north county charges reclaimed the Wexford Creamery Cup for the first-time since 2010.
But they endured quite a fright from Gusserane, who responded with tremendous intent after falling 2-7 to 0-3 into arrears after 25 minutes to close to within 2-8 to 1-6 at half-time. However, Castletown re-asserted superiority in the second-half, and substitute Robbie Brooks effectively sealed the deal with a goal immediately after his introduction in the 54th-minute.
Castletown were happily able to call upon Ben Brosnan at full-forward as the Wexford attacker soldiered with a hamstring injury, and they enjoyed a dream start when Colm Morris played in Brendan Halpin for the captain to drive to the Clonard-end net within 30 seconds of the throw-in.
The next four points were shared before Castletown, who were moving confidently, stretched clear by 1-7 to 0-2 after 21 minutes with the help of a hat-trick of points from the inspirational James Holmes, as Rory Heffernan and Jonathan Bealin (free) also obliged.
Gusserane had a goal cancelled out for a square infringement, and Castletown capitalised upon that let off to storm ten points clear when Jonathan Bealin blasted home a goal in the 25th-minute after good play by Donnacha Holmes (2-7 to 0-3).
But Gusserane eventually got to half-time with plenty of fresh wind in their sails after Seán Ryan and Páraic Conway pegged back points, before Adrian Flynn pounced on a goalkeeping error to goal in the 28th-minute and pare the difference down to 2-7 to 1-5.
Mark Rossiter added a point to cut the gap to four points, before some patient Castletown work culminated in defender Conor Carty pointing from the left end-line as he stretched the winners clear by 2-8 to 1-6 at half-time.
The interval clearly came at just the right time for Castletown to gather themselves again as they dominated on the resumption to race ahead by 2-12 to 1-7 after 41 minutes courtesy of the Holmes brothers, James (2) and Donnacha, together with Jonathan Bealin.
However, Gusserane certainly weren’t giving up hopes of a first title since 2016 when defender Gavin Sheehan palmed to the Clonard-end net in the 44th-minute after Sam Wall and Páraic Conway had combined to feed Sheehan at the far post (2-12 to 2-8).
The respective goals had lucky escapes over the next few minutes as Ben Brosnan forced a save before team-mate Jonathan Bealin crashed the rebound off the crossbar, and Gusserane smart saw a low drive from Páraic Conway saved by Anthony Masterson.
But Castletown were celebrating the clinching goal in the 54th-minute when substitute Robbie Brooks raced in from the left corner to blast to the town-end net only seconds after his introduction in the 54th-minute (3-14 to 2-8).
The protagonists shared the last four points – Bealin (free) and Brosnan for Castletown; Adrian Flynn (free) and Conway for Gusserane – before Castletown supporters engulfed the pitch in maroon-and-white celebrations to cheer Brendan Halpin as he accepted the Wexford Creamery Cup, while James Holmes was roundly applauded as the official ‘man of the match’.
Castletown now face Éire Óg of Carlow in round-one of the Leinster Club championship on the weekend of October 26th/27th.
And, on the weekend of his 53rd birthday, match referee Kevin Carty deserves glowing recognition for an extremely impressive execution of his task on the day when he enjoyed the honour of being the first-ever Sarsfields’ club-man to handle a county SFC final.
Castletown – Anthony Masterson; Joe Ahern, Danny Gardiner, Frank Roche; Conor Carty (0-1), Colm Morris, Joe Gardiner; Rory Heffernan (0-1), Liam Coleman; Jody O’Shaughnessy, Jonathan Bealin (1-6, 0-2 frees), James Holmes (0-6); Donnacha Holmes (0-1), Ben Brosnan (0-1), Brendan Halpin (capt., 1-0).
Subs: Stephen Moloney for O’Shaughnessy (temp., 12-15); Stephen Moloney for O’Shaughnessy (38); Ross Cody for Aherne (49); Robbie Brooks (1-0) for J Holmes 54); Colin Kennedy for D Holmes (60); Killian Pierce for J Gardiner (60+2); Richard Farrell for Coleman (60+2); also, Darragh Brooks, Andy Merrigan, Oisín Condren, Shane Halpin, Gavin Stamp, Risteard Kinsella, Cian Bealin, Ross Bealin, Niall Hempenstall, Danny Dixon, Peter Devin.
Gusserane – Micheál Ryan; Jack O’Connor, Gavin Sheehan (1-0), Jack Burford; Adrian Redmond, Mark O’Neill, Graeme Cullen (capt.); John Roche, Cillian Kehoe; Kenneth Cahill, Sam Wall, Páraic Conway (0-2); Mark Rossiter (0-2), Adrian Flynn (1-3, 0-2 frees), Seán Ryan (0-3).
Subs: Shane Flynn for Adrian Redmond (24); Tom Foran for Kenneth Cahill (38); Shane Cullen for Cillian Kehoe (45); Fintan Ryan for John Roche (54); also, Brian Hennessy, Eoin Ryan, Jamie Sheehan, Ciarán Conway, Tommy Ryan, Jamie Cooney, Seán O’Connor, Mark Kehoe, Donal Kiely, Liam Dillon, Darragh Doyle.
Referee – Kevin Carty (Sarsfields).