Louth SFC Final: Naomh Mairtin win first ever Louth SFC title
Louth Senior Football Championship Final
NAOMH MAIRTIN 1-13 ARDEE ST MARY'S 1-9
By Dan Bannon
The Joe Ward Cup is heading to Monasterboice for the first time as Naomh Mairtin picked up their maiden Louth senior title at the hands of Ardee St. Mary’s in a terrific showpiece.
Using all the valuable experience gained from losing the previous two finals in a row Naomh Mairtin came up trumps in the final’s big moments. Man of the match goalkeeper Craig Lynch saved a penalty and four one on one’s in a brilliant performance.
A big hit early on former Louth star and Ardee corner forward Darren Clarke set the tone for a bruising opening quarter with Eoghan Callaghan rising above the physicality to land the opener.
Both sides came into the contest boasting attacking flair and an eye for goals. With match ups key, the opposite transpired. Both sides cancelled each other out and chances were at a premium. The sides were level three times in the opening half.
The spectacle did eventually open up when Stephen Campbell received a black card before the first water break and Ardee cut loose. Darragh McConnon was denied first by county keeper Lynch who began his audition for the game’s most outstanding player.
Lynch then saved a penalty from Kian Moran and then added to his wonderful performance by narrowing the angles and making an excellent block on the Louth championship's brightest light Ciarán Keenan.
To compound things for Ardee, Sam Mulroy’s free taking was faultless; he fired over seven from seven on the day and his final three of the half importantly pushed Monasterboice outfit into the ascendancy at the half to make it 0-6 to 0-3 in their favour.
The second half began with a psychological blow for St. Mary’s. Having missed so many goal chances themselves, Conor Whelan buried one in the championship quarter and Naomh Mairtin never looked back.
The goal injected pure confidence into their actions and with that lead, Mulroy especially managed the game to perfection for his side. Stroking long range free kicks off the ground in expert fashion.
Lynch would be denied his clean sheet as Liam Jackson buried a penalty late on, but Mulroy would have the final say as his side etched their way into the winning enclosure for the first time.
Scorers for Naomh Mairtin: Sam Mulroy 0-9 (0-7f), Conor Whelan 1-1, Eoghan Callaghan, Tom Grey and Val Leddy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ardee St. Mary’s: Liam Jackson 1-0 (1-0pen), Tom Jackson and Paudy Clarke 0-2 each, Conor Gillespie (f), Ronan Carroll, Darragh McConnon, Mark Fay and Kian Moran 0-1 each.
Naomh Mairtin: Craig Lynch; Thom Sullivan, Mark Whelan, Mick Fanning; Conor Healy, Conor Morgan, John Clutterbuck; Evan Whelan, Val Leddy; Brian Berrill, Eoghan Callaghan 0-1, Stephen Campbell; Conor Whelan, Sam Mulroy, Tom Grey. *Subs: *Seán Healy for Fanning (24), JP Rooney for Grey (48), G Mooney for Leddy (55), E Wright for Sullivan (58), B McQuillan for Berrill (60).
Ardee St. Mary’s: Alan McGauley; Donal McKenny, Karl Faulkner, Conor Keenan;Liam Jackson,Tom Jackson, Eimhin Keenan; RJ Callaghan, Robbie Leavy; Conor Gillespie, Ciaran Keenan Kian Moran; Darren Clarke, Ronan Carroll Darragh McConnon Subs: Paudy Clarke for Clarke (37), Jay Crawley for Leavy (37), Carl Gillespie for Callaghan (42), M Fay for Gillespie (59), N Eccles for Moran (59).
*Referee: *Paul Kneel (Kilkerley Emmets)