Niall Brassil and TJ Reid battle for possession during Saturday's league clash between Shamrocks and James Stephens. Pic: Willie Dempsey
Helped by the free taking exploits of Eoin Guilfoyle, James Stephens emerged victorious over Ballyhale Shamrocks at UPMC Nowlan Park on Saturday afternoon.
Guilfoyle helped his side to 0-14 in total and with Luke Scanlon and Cian Kenny amongst others also standing out, the Village secured a crucial success.
It was the city side’s second win on the trot and with Bennettsbridge doing likewise it sets up a grandstand finish as the race hots up for a league final place this weekend.
Shamrocks attentions lie elsewhere and while they were much improved from their opening outing, it was still a losing effort for the county champions and they will be hoping to see a change in fortunes over the coming weeks starting with Tullaroan on Sunday.
Despite not hitting their full potential Shamrocks still almost snatched something from the game when TJ Reid hit a goalbound effort late on that was expertly saved by James Stephens goalkeeper Sean Manogue.
An opening half Eoin Cody goal had earlier given Shamrocks the half-time advantage but the scores for the champions dried up somewhat after the break and James Stephens deservedly saw out the win.
Shamrocks were quickly into their stride and opened up a two point lead when a TJ Reid free was followed up an effort from play by Joe Cuddihy.
James Stephens hit back with points from Tadhg O’Dwyer and Cian Kenny as nothing seperated the sides after an entertaining start to the anticipated clash.
Scanlon and Reid then swapped efforts before Shamrocks took control when Eoin Cody fired a shot to the net as James O’Connor’s outfit moved ahead on a 1-3 to 0-3 advantage.
Reid helped Shamrocks push ahead when the five time all-star winner converted successive frees.
That gave Shamrocks a five point buffer but that was soon down to two points after Guilfoyle and Scanlon found the target.
Ronan Corcoran rounded off the scoring in the opening quarter as Shamrocks led by three at the time of the first water break.
Guilfoyle and Reid then continued to share frees before the Village got a bit of momentum going with Scanlon and Guilfoyle combining to level up the game just before the break.
It was Shamrocks who had the lead by the time of the half-time whistle when a Brian Cody score edged his side into a one point lead (1-10 to 0-12).
second half surge
Shamrocks continued to keep their noses in front at the beginning of the second half when Reid notched a pair of frees but when Guilfoyle did likewise, James Stephens soon took advantage of Shamrocks indiscipline.
The Village got a bit of momentum going and nailed five points on the bounce to go four points ahead when efforts from Guilfoyle were added to by points from Mikey Drennan, Niall Brassil and Cian Kenny.
James Stephens led 0-18 to 1-11 at that point but scores from Reid and Brian Cody soon had Shamrocks back within touching distance.
It was all to play for heading into the final quarter but unlike in last year’s championship semi-final it was James Stephens who finished the better.
Guilfoyle maintained his accuracy on the placed balls but with sub Jeffrey Coyne and William Spencer also knocking over points, the Seamus Dwyer managed outfit looked primed for victory.
Shamrocks are a resilient side though and they refused to throw in the towel with Reid knocking over a couple of points before the end.
Shamrock’s marquee star almost snatched a draw late on but James Stephens stood tall and the way they marshalled the likes of Richie Reid, Adrian Mullen and Colin Fennelly proved crucial as they saw out the game to win on a 0-24 to 1-18 scoreline.
James Stephens- Eoin Guilfoyle (0-14, 0-14fs), Luke Scanlon (0-3), Cian Kenny (0-2), Mikey Drennan, Niall Brassil, Tadhg O’Dwyer, Jeffrey Coyne and William Spencer (0-1 each)
Shamrocks- TJ Reid (0-11, 0-10fs), Eoin Cody (1-2), Brian Cody (0-2), Evan Shefflin, Ronan Corcoran and Joe Cuddihy (0-1 each)
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