August 7th 2017 – St Mochtas 0-12 Ardee St Marys 2-15
By the time the Marys got their Championship campaign underway in Louth Village, Tommy Kirk’s young charges had won three from three in the league season – hitting 7-51 in the process. That quick start in Division 1 wasn’t mirrored in the Championship however, with the Blues sluggish and slow in the opening stages.
They trailed by a point – 1-06 to 0-10 – at the break. But Conor Gillespie’s (pictured above vs Cooley) first half goal was added to after the break by Andrew Bingham, while Shane Matthews, Carl Gillespie and Jonathan Commins all hit 0-03 each in what ended a comfortable nine point victory. The Marys defence provided the foundation for that second half performance, restricting the home team to just two scores.
September 8th 2017 – Ardee St Marys 7-21 Dundalk Gaels 0-03
With two opponents having failed to field in the group stages, the Marys were having to fill these gaps in the fixture schedule with training games and challenge matches. This Minor Championship quarter-final clash didn’t offer anything more in the form of a test for the young Blues. A 39 point victory, it was an exercise in fitness and giving the whole panel some minutes on the field.
The gulf between the teams was mammoth. 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.
Louth Minors Shane Matthews and Conor Gillespie scored 2-06 and 2-01 respectively. Wearing their red change strip on home soil, the Marys were red-hot from the outset. Jonathan Commins scored their opening goal within seconds of the start.
September 15th 2017 – Cooley Kickhams 1-09 Ardee St Marys 2-12
The further into the competition you get, the harder it becomes and after some very comfortable wins in Championship and league, this game gave the young Marys side a taste of what kind of games you need to win to claim a Championship. This was as hard-fought a win as you are likely to see.
With ten minutes remaining on a bitterly cold night at the Darver Centre of Excellence – itself it’s own micro-climate – you could have been forgiven for thinking minor success would elude Ardee for a 31st year. Five points down with just minutes remaining, Liam Jackson’s penalty kick hit the back of the net to get the comeback underway.
Conor Gillespie pointed when Shane Matthews scored a brilliant free effort from near the left sideline, the Marys were in front as the clock ticked into injury time. Sub Andrew Bingham hit 1-01 in the last few minutes as the Marys finished much the stronger, completing their comeback with plenty to spare.
There were scares too. Cooley hit the crossbar during their spell in the ascendancy in the second half.
Ardee St Marys Minors – Ch’ship Top Scorers
- Shane Matthews – 2-10
- Conor Gillespie – 3-07
- Andrew Bingham – 3-03
- Jonathan Commins – 1-08
- Carl Gillespie – 1-05
- Ciaran Keenan – 0-04
- Liam Jackson – 1-00
- Tristan Knowles – 0-03
- Conor Hennessey – 0-03
- Gavin Kirk – 0-01
- Tom Jackson – 0-01
- James McDonald – 0-01
- Evan Malone – 0-01
- Tiernan Corrigan – 0-01