Naomh Mairtin 1-07 Shelmailers 2-06

Shelmaliers pulled off a tremendous comeback win over much-fancied Louth Champions Naomh Mairtin in Haggardstown. The Wexford champions were five points down at the end of the first half and were as many ahead in the second period, and bravely held on for their first victory in the province.

An unanswered 2-04 either side of the interval was where the game was won. Eoghan Nolan palmed in at the back post at the end of the first half and Ross Banville was on hand at the back post again to bury past Monasterboice substitute goalkeeper Joe Gordon.

Gordon had come in for the experienced Louth net minder Craig Lynch, who was blacked carded for his side in the aftermath to Shelmaliers opening goal. The two time Wexford champions also lost their goalkeeper Craig McCabe midway through the second half and that made their triumph even more impressive.

The opening stanza was slow and methodical with both sides feeling each other out. With the pace low, Fergal Reel's Mairtin’s side were comfortable in possession and forcing Shelmaliers to turnover the ball.

One of those led to Conor Whelan’s netting the games opening goal in the 12th minute. Sam Mulroy free’s and a JP Rooney effort meant the entire Naomh Mairtin full forward line had found the target but despite this their methodical play would soon catch up with them.

Glen Malone ignited the comeback for the Curracloe men with his sides second score of the game in the 28th minute. Then came Nolan’s goal and Lynch’s black card. Malone, who was a late injury doubt rounded off the blitz to level the game before half time, making it 1-03 a piece.

Naomh Mairtin were still expected to dust themselves down after half time and resume control but it simply never happened. With Shels sensing the upset, they went for broke by pushing the experienced Brian Malone up the field, and it paid off in spades.

Unmarked Ross Banville was picked out by a wonderful Jody Donohoe cross field pass. Once Banville found the net, the confidence and energy levels soared for John Hegarty’s men. Aaron Murphy and Glen Malone again found the target to make it a ten point turnaround.

Sam Mulroy would lead the expected rally for the back-to-back Louth Champions with four free’s in a row.

Shels goalkeeper Craig McCabe was black carded for the first free and the one point game provided huge tension but the underdogs held on and were relieved by a late Graham Staples point after he punished a wayward Lynch kick out.

With McCabe back in goals Staples would soon leave the field for a second yellow card and Naomh Mairtin pushed and pushed with a couple of wides and goalmouth scramble where Val Leddy was denied three times in an enthralling goal mouth scramble.

However, the day belonged to Shelmaliers, they’ll take on Naas in Croke Park in a fortnight’s time.

Naomh Mairtin: Craig Lynch; Mark Whelan, Thom Sullivan, Conor Morgan; John Clutterbuck, Seán Healy, Conor Healy; Wayne Campbell, Evan Whelan, Val Leddy, Eoghan Callaghan, Stephen Campbell; Sam Mulroy (0-06, 0-06f), Conor Whelan (1-00), JP Rooney (0-01).

Subs used: Joe Gordon for Leddy (28), Leddy for Gordon (38), Jack Murphy for S Campbell (46), Gavan Mooney for W Campbell (51), Thomas Clarke for Mooney (58),

Shelmaliers: Craig McCabe; André O'Brien, Simon Donohoe, James Cash; Ross Banville (1-00), Graham Staples (0-01), Glen Malone (0-03,0-01m); Seán Keane-Carroll, Aidan Cash; Jody Donohoe, Conor Hearne, Aaron Murphy (0-01); Brian Malone; Páraic O’Leary, Eoghan Nolan (1-01).

Subs used: Mark Power for O’Leary (49), Aodhan Foley for Murphy (42), Murphy for Foley (52), Eoin Doyle for A Cash (54), Kyle Roche for Murphy (60).

Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath)