Ardee St Marys’ 2017 season ended in disappointment on Saturday afternoon as their Cardinal O’Donnell Cup hopes were dashed by a clinical Naomh Mairtin outfit at Pairc Muire. The men from Monasterboice won 5-09 to 1-10.
They will face Dreadnots, who overcame Dundalk Gaels today, in the final but in horrid weather conditions in Ardee this afternoon, the Marys hopes of a first league triumph in 15 years were ended. It looked over by the break, with the Marys trailing by 10 points. They couldn’t really eat into that deficit after half time.
Kian Moran’s injury time penalty at least ensured the Blues had a goal of their own as the visitors hit five. Brian Berrill and Louth’s inter-county forward Sam Mulroy hit 1-03 and 1-02 for the Martins as they cruised though.
The defeat will now mean the Ardee outfit will go at least 16 years without getting their hands on the Cardinal O’Donnell Cup. Four members of that team from 2002 still remain in the Blues panel today – Peter Duffy, Niall Carroll, Ronan Carroll and Darren Clarke. Backroom team members Alan McKenny and Brian Keenan provide further links to the last league triumph for the Marys’ senior side. Who is around next year remains to be seen.
A six point win against today’s opponents at the back end of July sent the Marys to the top of Division 1 with two games to play. A last day win over Sean O’Mahonys ensured they stayed there and set up another clash with the men from Monasterboice, who finished fourth in the league. Those placings meant nothing as the rain poured down on Saturday.
Hugh Durrigan was able to call upon an almost full strength outfit at Pairc Muire on Saturday afternoon. The aforementioned Duffy and Ronan Carroll both started with Clarke a second half introduction from the bench. By the time he came on, the Marys had a mountain to climb.
Conor Whelan and Sam Mulroy edged the visitors in front before Bryan McQuillan was tugged back by Brendan Matthews as he prepared to shoot towards goal. Mulroy sent Duffy the wrong way with the penalty.
The players were – understandably – slipping around on the field but Carroll and Moran put over. Mulroy and Stephen Campbell extended the Mairtins lead before the Marys backline was beaten by a simple ball over the top. McQuillan toe poked past Duffy to make it 2-04 to 0-02.
After early sub Dean Matthews raised the white flag with a simple free, the Marys hit two wides and were made pay when Brian Berrill found the net just before half time. Sub JP Rooney was involved.
He hit a solitary point in the second half as the Marys tried in vain to hit back early on. Kirk, Dean Matthews and Moran contributed points but with Wayne Campbell and Gavin Mooney having the better of things in midfield, the Mairtins kept scoring at the other end.
Eoghan Callaghan scored a goal from close range and four minutes later Thomas Sullivan did the same. They found more than adequate space as the home side chased the game.
It looked as if the Marys were totally luckless when Clarke’s last minute shot came off the post but there was still time for Moran to beat county keeper Lynch.
ARDEE ST MARYS: Peter Duffy, Brendan Matthews, Barry McCoy, Karl Faulkner, Conor Keenan, Eimhin Keenan, John Bingham, Ronan Carroll (0-02), Robbie Leavy, Kian Moran (1-02), Daire McConnon, Mark Fay, Alan Kirk (0-02), Paudy Clarke, Jamie Rooney.
Subs: Dean Matthews (0-03) for Jamie Rooney, Darren Clarke (0-01) for Paudy Clarke, Cian Commins for Mark Fay, Shane Carroll for Alan Kirk, Eamonn Callaghan for Barry McCoy.
NAOMH MAIRTIN: Craig Lynch, Conor Healy, Thomas Sullivan (1-00), Alan Downey, Padraig McDonagh, Benny Reilly, Eoghan Callaghan (1-00), Wayne Campbell (0-01), Gavin Mooney, Stephen Campbell (0-01), Sam Mulroy (1-02), Brian Berrill (1-03), Conor Whelan (0-01), Luke Harrington, Bryan McQuillan (1-00).
Subs: JP Rooney (0-01) for Luke Harrington, Conor Smith for Bryan McQuillan, Paddy Sullivan for Eoghan Callaghan, Val Leddy for Conor Whelan, Adam Winters for Conor Healy.
REFEREE: Paul Kneel