Ardee St Marys cruised into the last four of the Louth GAA Minor Football Championship on Friday evening. Dundalk Gaels were the unfortunate side on the receiving end of an extraordinary 7-21 to 0-03 defeat at Pairc Muire.
In truth, there was nothing particularly unfortunate about the scoreline. The gulf between the teams was mammonth. Having held a 5-12 to no score advantage by half time, the foot was taken off the pedal after the break, in relative terms. This wasn’t the challenge some might have expected in the knockout round of the Championship.
The Marys Under 18s were able to finish top of Group 2 with six points – despite taking to the field just once, their 2-15 to 0-12 win away at St Mochtas four weeks ago. They were awarded the points in a walkover victory over Roche Emmets/St Brides last week and also for their scheduled match against Wolfe Tones, who didn’t field at all in the group.
In the minor side’s one outing in the Championship group, Conor Gillespie hit 1-03 and Andrew Bingham 1-01, while Carl Gillespie, Jonathan Commins and Shane Matthews all contributed 0-03 as the Marys overcame a half time deficit to win comfortably in Louth Village.
It turned out that match was much more hotly contested than their quarter-final in Ardee. Just 12 seconds were on the clock when Commins hit the back of the net. Matthews found himself in plenty of space to fire in a second goal with 12 minutes played. The Marys, decked out in a red change strip against their blue-and-white hooped opponents, looked red hot from the start.
Before that, Ciaran Keenan, Tiarnan Corrigan and Matthews had all hit efforts over the bar. It was obvious from the early stages those seeking a well fought contest would be disappointed. Commins and Gavin Kirk split the posts before Carl Gillespie latched onto Conor Hennessey’s ball from midfield. He sidestepped his marker and hit the net, via the post.
The Marys hit seven first half wides – which just goes to show it could have been even worse for the visitors from Dundalk. Keenan, Commins and Hennessy added further first half points – where as the Dundalk Gaels stopper had three minutes to forget before the whistle. Gillespie’s Conor and Carl were the goalscorers to benefit.
In the second half, Matthews racked up three more points for himself while subs Tristan Knowles, Bingham, Evan Malone and James McDonald got in on the act, each pointing. Conor Gillespie – who was down receiving treatment for a time – sprung to his feet to make it 6-18 with a goal and Bingham turned smartly and slammed a shot past the goalkeeper. It wasn’t hard to have sympathy for him and his teammates tonight.
The referee blew up with 30 seconds to spare. It was the smallest mercy. The Marys move onto the semi-finals – and presumably – more of a challenge.
ARDEE ST MARYS: Alan McGauley, Cian Taaffe, Philip Trainor, Killian Scott, Tom Jackson, Donal McKenny, Gavin Kirk (0-01), Liam Jackson, Conor Hennessey (0-02), Carl Gillespie (1-00), Ciaran Keenan (0-02), Jonathan Commins (1-03), Tiarnan Corrigan (0-01), Conor Gillespie (2-01), Shane Matthews (2-06).
Subs: Tristan Knowles (0-02) for Tiarnan Corrigan, Evan Malone (0-01) for Ciaran Keenan, James McDonald (0-01) for Jonathan Commins, Andrew Bingham (1-01) for Carl Gilespie, David Conlon for Tom Jackson, Lorcan Donnelly for Donal McKenny.