Ardee St Marys extended their unbeaten run to four games in the Louth GAA League Division 1 but they had to come from seven points down in the second half to draw 1-12 to 1-12 with St Patrick’s.
Kian Moran’s goal sparked the comeback after an early blitz from the Pats after the restart saw them surge in front. Alan Kirk’s 0-04 haul and good showings too from Daire McConnon and Ronan Carroll helped the Blues get back level but a winner proved just beyond them.
Former Louth inter-county star Paddy Keenan was the main man for the Dundalk men, plundering 1-06 of his sides total as the sides ultimately couldn’t be separated at Pairc Muire.
The teams were missing John Bingham and Eoin O’Connor respectively with Louth getting their Championship campaign underway on Sunday. The visitors got the first score of the game through Conor Grogan before frees from Jamie Rooney and Alan Kirk edged the home team in front.
The Marys own ex-Louth man Darren Clarke is out with an arm injury – he sported a bright red cast on the sideline on Friday evening – but Keenan was key in this game. However, he took time to find his range. He kicked two presentable frees wide in the opening ten minutes.
Carroll was given ample opportunity to stretch his legs in midfield early on and after passing up one opportunity to score, he wasn’t to be denied a second time around. He scored a fine point before Aidan McCann put over after David Carroll stood firm to deny a goal opportunity.
Seconds later, McConnon’s rangy strides left his marker in his wake and he slotted over his first score of the evening. He excelled throughout. The first half was a close encounter and neither side was getting away from the other.
Alan Kirk scored a simple free before three Pats scores without reply. Grogan skipped past Eamon Callaghan to score before McCann and Keenan added one each to level the game.
Kirk dispatched a relatively simple free as the Marys edged in front again. They were defending well and in numbers, putting pressure on the ball at the right times but were helpless to stop the leveller. The ball was worked to Keenan and he hit a lovely post splitter over for 0-06 to 0-06 at the break.
It was in the six minutes after the interval that the Pats surged ahead. Their urgent start to the second half was rewarded. A routine Keenan free began a sequence of 1-04 without reply. McCann fisted over after a Keenan pass and the key man then added 1-02 himself.
A point attempt came off the crossbar and Keenan was the first to react, following in and finding the bottom corner of Peter Duffy’s goal with a classy finish. Within a minute, the Marys had a goal of their own.
Sub Barry McCoy was played in down the centre and after he was stopped in his tracks, he found Moran who found the back of the net. The deficit was cut to four points and after Thomas McCann pointed, the Marys scored five of their own without reply through Carroll, Kirk, McConnon and the leveller from Dean Matthews.
Carroll’s second point in particular was a stand out moment – a moment that all by itself appeared to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. McConnon was always a threat and Moran was a growing influence, running from deep.
Duffy had Eimhin Keenan to thank for preventing another Pats goal with a goal line clearance in the second half but referee Donal Brady called a 45.
After Keenan and Kirk swapped points, the duo then swapped wides at the game neared it’s conclusion. Dean Matthews can in particular be happy with the pressure applied when the Pats man missed his kick. Austin McCann inexplicably missed a winning point chance in the final minute while with the last kick of the game, Mark Fay dropped a kick just short of the bar.
The Ardee men extended their unbeaten run to four league outings and are among the top sides in the division with five played. Against a strong outfit, they might have taken a point beforehand. Judging by Paddy Martin’s team talk post match, he perhaps felt his side had given the Pats too much respect.
ARDEE ST MARYS: Peter Duffy, Brendan Matthews, David Carroll, Eamon Callaghan, Conor Keenan, Eimhin Keenan, Dean Mathews (0-1), Ronan Carroll (0-03), Robbie Leavy, Jamie Rooney (0-01), Daire McConnon (0-02), Mark Fay, Alan Kirk (0-05), Kian Moran (1-00), Wayne Matthews.