St Loman’s 1-10 Shelmaliers 1-8
By Gerry Buckley at TEG Cusack Park
Corner back Eoghan Hogan’s 59th-minute goal proved to be the crucial score in pleasant conditions at TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar as the local St Loman’s side had to work very hard to dismiss the impressive challenge of Wexford champions Shelmaliers.
Shelmaliers had the bulk of the early possession, but they were unable to convert this into scores. They missed three scoreable frees in the opening seven minutes, during which St Loman’s marquee player John Heslin was yellow-carded.
A ninth-minute counter attack yielded the first score of the game to the always-threatening Shane Dempsey, and it was another six minutes before Heslin doubled the home team’s lead from a 45-metre free. Further points followed from Danny McCartan and Heslin (another free) before Conor Hearne belatedly opened the Wexford champions’ account with a fisted point in the 22nd minute.
Dempsey pounced again in the 26th minute before his opposite number Hearne cancelled this out, moments after a quickfire triple-goal chance for the visitors yielded nothing due to solid St Loman’s defending. A low-trajectory point from Kevin Regan put Paddy Dowdall’s troops ahead by 0-6 to 0-2, but Shelmaliers kept well in touch with a point apiece from the boots of Arnie Murphy and Hearne. Heslin converted his third free of the contest on the stroke of half-time to leave his side with a flattering 0-7 to 0-4 lead at the interval.
Eoin Doyle halved the deficit when he kicked a brace of outstanding points for Ronan Joyce’s charges in the opening eight minutes of the second half. All Star nominee Ronan O’Toole opened his account in style before former Dublin star Eoghan O’Gara almost made an instant impression when introduced as a sub, but his ‘point’ was disallowed.
Dempsey added two more points – the first of them with his fist – to put St Loman’s 0-10 to 0-6 in front after 51 minutes. An Eoghan Nolan free and a great point under pressure from O’Gara kept Shelmaliers very much in contention, but Hogan emerged as an unlikely goalscoring hero for the Westmeath champions when he rounded off a fine move by rifling the ball to the roof of the net in the 59th minute.
A fine display by Dempsey was marred in added-time when he was red-carded for a high challenge on Simon Donohoe. A foot-block on the hard-working Murphy resulted in a late penalty which goalkeeper Craig McCabe converted with aplomb. There was still time for two last-gasp ‘45’s for Shelmaliers, but the home team stood firm to set up an intriguing away quarter-final against Longford champions Emmet Óg Killoe, now managed by former St Loman’s boss Luke Dempsey.
Scorers for St Loman’s, Mullingar: S Dempsey 0-4, J Heslin 0-3 (3f), E Hogan 1-0, E Gaffney, D McCartan, R O’Toole 0-1 each.
Scorers for Shelmaliers: C Hearne 0-3, C McCabe 1-0 (pen), E Doyle 0-2, E Nolan (f), A Murphy, E O’Gara 0-1 each.
St Loman’s, Mullingar: J Daly; E Hogan, D O’Keeffe, O Hogan; J Geoghegan, D Whelan, E Gaffney (0-01); S Flanagan, J Heslin; TJ Cox, S McCartan, K Regan; D McCartan, R O’Toole, S Dempsey.
Subs: P Foy for Gaffney (47), K Reilly for Flanagan (47), T Graham for Cox (54), R Jones for Regan (60).
Shelmaliers: C McCabe; D Campbell, G Staples, C Roche; G Malone, S Donohoe, R Banville; A Cash, S Keane Carroll; A Murphy, E Nolan, E Doyle; P Hearne, B Malone, C Hearne.
Subs: E O’Gara for Cash (41), M Power for Roche (52).
Referee: S Mulhare (Laois).