Ardee St Marys’ will contest the Junior 2A Championship final later this month as they saw off the threat of Naomh Mairtin by a scoreline of 1-09 to 1-08 at Pairc Muire this evening – in a match that saw the home side finish with 12 men on the field.
Pearce Callan and Fergal Diamond were sent off before Paul Malone was black carded in injury time, amidst a farcical ending to the game. Holding a two point advantage at the break, the Marys were able to survive the blow of losing influential midfielder Gavin Douglas to injury at half time.
They will face St Fechins in the final where they will look to win a third Junior 2A Championship in four years. Ken Rooney, Donal Matthews and their team will be eager to show last year was a blip in their recent domination at this grade.
Craig Keenan’s goal within 30 seconds of the start got the game off to the best possible start for the Ardee side but that wasn’t a portent of things to come. The Marys were far from having things their own way – and scored just three second half points. Those scores from Ross Gaynor and Cian Commins proved the difference.
Jocks’ keeper Darren Morgan was forced into a save just 12 seconds into the match, with Diamond the player denied. Seconds later, he set up Commins who in turn teed up Keenan to smash a shot into the net.
Carl Courtney slotted over a free and David Delaney scored from play as the Martins reduced the arrears before Commins arrowed a fine effort over. Courtney for the most part is an expert free taker and he hit two high and over the bar to level the game. The second was disagreed on by the two umpires, but given in the end.
Three of the four Martins points had come from frees and perhaps it could have been worse. The number 11 then missed his next attempt, a much more routine opportunity. Gaynor got off the mark for the day with a free of his own before Joe McGrane surged forward in midfield and exchanged passes with Courtney before splitting the posts.
After good work from captain Wayne Matthews, Commins took a score very well indeed. Nicky McDonnell replied but the Marys built up a little head of steam before the interval.
Gaynor, Mark Gorman and Robbie Clarke all put over, the latter curling a free up and over from off the ground. Courtney’s third of the game rounded up the scoring, but not the incident, for the first half.
Douglas was clattered into by Conor Smyth and the Marys man was left stricken on the ground, causing consternation on the home sideline. Harsh words were exchanged – mostly in the direction of referee Peter Hoey. Thankfully, after a lengthy delay, he sprung to his feet. Despite treatment throughout the break, his day was done.
A long range effort from Gaynor flew over to get the second half scoring underway before he should have done better with one closer to the goal. Commins was having a good battle with Kenny Lambe in the Jocks’ backs throughout and after a wide from play, he hit a brilliant free effort over.
The Marys wouldn’t get their next and final score for 11 minutes and in that period, they were busy at the other end. Goalkeeper Malone’s strong punch denied Barry Sullivan but minutes later, McGrane and Courtney combined to set up the sub to finish low into the net.
With the deficit down to one, David Carroll produced an excellent block to deny McGrane. Gaynor scored his fourth point of the afternoon to give the Marys breathing space but when Pearce Callan clashed with Patrick Usher, it was straight red for him and yellow for the Martins man.
Courtney hit the resultant free wide and then Adam Winters spurned another chance to level. In injury time, it all kicked off. The referee had a job on his hands keeping order but he did decide to show Diamond a red.
60 seconds later, Paul Malone was black carded as the visitors edged forward looking for a goal to win it. They won a free on the 20m line which Courtney took, prompting two flying saves from Malone. The referee pulled it back however and second time around, he took his point. It wasn’t enough.
ARDEE ST MARYS: Paric Malone, David Woods, Paul Malone, Pearce Callan, David Carroll, Shane McCoy, Wayne Matthews, John McMahon, Gavin Douglas, Mark Gorman (0-01), Fergal Diamond , Robbie Clarke (0-01), Craig Keenan (1-00), Cian Commins (0-03), Ross Gaynor (0-04).
Subs: Martin Duffy for Gavin Douglas (31), Peter Clarke for David Woods (49), Brian McCoy for Craig Keenan (47).
NAOMH MAIRTIN: Darren Morgan, Kenny Lambe, Paul Campbell, Mick Goodwin, Robert Smith, Adam Winters, Shane Morgan, Joe McGrane (0-01), Conor Smyth, Conor Brady, Carl Courtney (0-05), Karl Morgan, Patrick Usher, Nicky McDonnell (0-01), David Delaney (0-01).
Subs: Mark Whelan for Michael Goodwin, Barry Sullivan (1-00) for Conor Brady, Shane Campbell for Robbie Smyth, Greg Fahy for Karl Morgan.