Ardee St Marys returned to winning ways on Sunday afternoon, earning their first league win of the season in process courtesy of a 0-13 to 1-08 win over the Geraldines at Pairc Muire.
In a close and at times ill-tempered encounter, the Marys recovered from the concession of an early goal to see off the challenge of the men from Haggardstown and in doing so they recorded their first league points of the 2017 campaign after last week’s defeat away to Cooley.
Alan Kirk scored 0-04 in total while Darren Clarke struck three points of his own as the Marys held onto a two point advantage they had created for themselves by the interval. The visitors had a man sent off 10 minutes into the second half in an incident that left former Louth forward Clarke stricken on the ground.
That dismissal, while handing the Marys the numerical advantage, didn’t stop the Geraldines mounting a late charge to get something from the game but the Blues held firm.
Less then three minutes were on the clock when the Dundalk men hit the front. A failure to deal with a high looping ball in towards goal resulted in the ball being touched under and between goalkeeper Peter Duffy’s legs and in.
Kian Moran got Ardee’s first score of the game moments before the Geraldines should have scored a second goal. They struck the post with a man in acres of space to turn in any deflection that may have come his way.
The home side could consider themselves fortunate they escaped that attack and had Duffy to thank for keeping the score down in the opening 25 minutes. He was on hand to pull off two impressive saves to deny the visitors further goals as time and again they were finding space to move the ball into behind the Marys loose back players.
Ronan Carroll registered a point from range and Darren Clarke put a free over the bar to keep the Marys in touch after the Gers extended their lead. Paudy Clarke stretched to kick a point before he fed namesake Darren to draw the game level.
After John Bingham advanced well from full back, Paudy Clarke came in from the right and split the posts to hand the Ardee men the lead for the first time. Alan Kirk extended that lead with a left foot kick from play before scoring a routine free from the 13 metre line. Good play from Mark Fay ended in him playing in Eimhin Keenan but he was unlucky to see his effort sail just wide of the post.
The Geraldines retained their goalscoring threat and on the stroke of half time, a well struck free kick reduced the arrears to two – 0-08 to 1-03.
Like in the first half, the Gers made a quick start to the second. They broke forward straight from winning possession at the throw-in and just 13 seconds of the second half had elapsed when a pass forward was helped over the onrushing Duffy and towards the gaping goal. Louth player Bingham was on hand to clear.
The Marys responded in kind with three scores in four minutes. Clarke scored his second free of the game before a very well taken score from Kirk, kicked from the tightest of angles. Then a shocking kick from the Geraldines netminder saw Carroll take the ball and surge forward. He passed to Fay who slotted over.
Bar the basics, referee Des McDonald didn’t have much officiating to do in that first half but after the break, he got decidedly busier. He brandished a yellow card to Paudy Clarke before a major incident dealt a blow to the visiting team.
Darren Clarke was left floored after being struck by their number 7. McDonald seen the incident and took control, dismissing the player with no need for consultation with his umpires. From the resultant free kick, Kirk put over to make it 0-12 to 1-03.
The away side hit back with a 45 and a free of their own before the Blues had a lucky escape. Duffy was able to retreat and collect the loose ball as it invitingly was touched towards the goal, just waiting to be stuck in the net. There was just one more score for the Marys – coming from Fay. He cooly put over after Moran’s pass.
In the final ten minutes of play, the men from Haggardstown scored three more points to close in on the lead established by the Marys. They were forcing the issue as the clock approached full time. Kirk and Fay passed up presentable chances to put the game to bed.
But their efforts to take something from the game was overshadowed late on by a huge blow up between the two sets of players in injury time. Down by the Marys goalline, even the Gers goalkeeper elected to run the length of the pitch to get involved. The shoving soon subsided and that was that.
ARDEE ST MARYS: Peter Duffy, Eamon Callaghan, John Bingham, Brendan Matthews, Conor Keenan, Eimhin Keenan, Wayne Matthews, Ronan Carroll (0-01), Robbie Leavy, Daire McConnon, Alan Kirk (0-04 2f), Paudy Clarke (0-02), Mark Fay (0-02), Kian Moran (0-01), Darren Clarke (0-03 2f).
Subs: Cian Commins for Alan Kirk, Barry McCoy for Wayne Matthews.