Photos: Noel Reddy
Starlights 1-11 Castletown 1-9
Three unanswered points in added time saw Starlights dethrone defending champions Castletown to capture the Wexford SFC crown for the first time since 2017 at a wintry Chadwicks Wexford Park on Sunday.A late first-half Ben Brosnan penalty forged Castletown clear by 1-4 to 0-3 at half-time. But Starlights returned with renewed vigour to determinedly overcome the holders regaining a 1-9 to 1-8 lead after 60 minutes to deliver three game-defining closing blows.
Castletown controlled the early exchanges to lead 0-3 to 0-0 after ten minutes as Jonathan Bealin’s sixth minute ice-breaker was added to by Wexford colleague Ben Brosnan posting a free and a ’45.While the atrocious weather conditions certainly didn’t help, the defensive orientation of the opening-half also meant scores were at a premium, and Starlights closed to within 0-4 to 0-3 entering added time through Ricky Fox (free), Darragh Pepper and Dillon Redmond.
But Castletown gained a considerable boost three minutes into injury time when Robbie Brooks forced a penalty which Ben Brosnan fired low to the net, for a 1-4 to 0-3 interval advantage.
The second-half was more of a swashbuckling affair, and Starlights returned with added impetus as they outstripped the defending champions to level on 0-8 to 1-5 after 44 minutes.
Darragh Pepper bookended this Starlights’ surge with tidy points as Alan Tobin (two frees) and Jack Kelly also helped balance the books.
Castletown lifted the siege for Ben Brosnan to edge them back in front. But Starlights continued to shift the momentum as a pacey move culminated in Dylan McVeigh chipping a ground shot to the net to dramatically turn the tables by 1-8 to 1-6 on 52 minutes.
Castletown displayed the class of reigning champions though to recover parity by the 55th minute as Brosnan (free) and Jonathan Bealin responded.
Starlights kicked three particularly untimely wides just as Brosnan nudged Castletown back in front by1-9 to 1-8 after 60 minutes.
But there was a decisive sting in Starlights’ tail, as Kevin Foley kept the ball in play for Alan Tobin to level matters for what proved the last time, before Tobin and a delightful Ricky Fox score sealed their return to the pinnacle of Wexford football, and the first-ever recipients of the gleaming new Seamus Keevans Memorial Cup.
Starlights: Pa Doyle; James Peare; Rory O’Connor (capt.), Ben Edwards; Dillon Redmond (0-1), Jack Kelly (0-1), Nathan O’Connor; Liam Ryan, Nick Doyle; Alan Tobin (0-4, 3 frees), Kevin Foley, Dylan McVeigh (1-0); Darragh Pepper (0-3), Ricky Fox (0-2, 1 free), Ryan Mahon.Subs: James Carty for Mahon, inj. (36), Dayle Donohoe for McVeigh (60+3).
Castletown: Anthony Masterson; Ross Cody, Danny Gardiner, Frank Roche; Killian Pierce, Colm Morris, Conor Carty; Rory Heffernan, Liam Coleman; James Holmes, Jonathan Bealin (0-2), Jody O’Shaughnessy; Brendan Halpin, Ben Brosnan (1-6, 0-2 frees, 0-2 ’45s, 1-0 penalty), Robbie Brooks (0-1 mark).Subs: Donnacha Holmes for J. Holmes (37), Joe Ahern for O’Shaughnessy (47).
Referee: Fintan O’Reilly (Kilmore).