Ardee St Marys ended their 30 year wait for a Minor Championship on Sunday afternoon as they put Geraldines to bed in a sensational attacking display, one led by Jonathan Commins who hit 2-13 in one of the most memorable individual displays in recent final history. The Marys ran out 6-21 to 2-10 winners.
It was a history making day for the Marys and for Ardee. Conor Gillespie, Gavin Kirk, Ciaran Keenan and sub Tiarnan Corrigan also scored goals as the Marys rarely looking in danger.
Tommy Kirk’s young side came into the game knowing their task was to bed to bed a 30 year wait for Minor success in Louth. Back in 1987, it was an amalgamation of local teams that claimed the cup, and this win is the first the Blues can call theirs and theirs alone.
2017 also marks the 40th anniversary of the last of the the Ardee Minors’ memorable four-in-a-row Minor Championship winning exploits. The history, the links – they all make today’s victory all the sweeter. But in truth, this is about today’s current crop. They marked themselves out as something special.
Commins came into the game on the back of hitting 0-09 in last week’s Under 16 final defeat to St Fechins. If he personally had wrongs to right, he did so in the most emphatic fashion. At no point could any Geraldines player, or substitute brought on to quell his influence, stop the half forward.
His 45 got the scoring started for the Marys – who were without the impressive half back Tom Jackson through injury. Lorcan Dixon replaced him and with Joe Mulholland also starting, the Marys upped their height and physicality against the side from Haggardstown.
Within seconds of his opener, he found the net. Left in acres of room, his low finish to Ciaran Peelo’s right was simple. Carl Gillespie added another before the tide began to turn. David Murdock turned in from close range and then Fedhelm Joyce and Conor Soraghan added points before Ben Mooney’s free.
Commins scored 1-02 in the space of three first half minutes to reassert the Marys control and then two more points – from play and a free – either side of Conor Gillespie’s super score. Gillespie hit the net minutes later at the end of a move involving Conor Hennessey, Carl Gillespie, and Shane Matthews. The latter wasn’t greedy and squared to Gillespie who turned and fired in.
Before the break, Hennessey got a score of his own and Conor Gillespie brought his tally to 1-02 for the day. Ben Mooney’s 45 and Joyce’s score were of little consolation but Alan McGauley had to be at his best to deny Joyce from point blank range.
Matthews and Keenan started off where the Marys left off in the second half but Joyce and Jack Reid replied before the dangerous Joyce showed his pace to leave the Marys backs standing. He powered an effort in for 3-11 to 2-07.
With Commins on their team though, the Marys had little to worry about. He brought his tally for the day to 2-11 in the space of eight second half minutes. By this stage, there was no catching the lads from Ardee.
Even the substitutes deployed to keep the half forward quiet couldn’t do the job and with two more years of Minor football ahead of the youngster, nobody can rule out Marys continuing dominance at this level going forward, if it’s there to be played.
Late in the day, Kirk, Keenan and Corrigan got in on the scoring act. Sub Tristan Knowles also managed an impudent, cheeky point. The Blues were enjoying themselves. Captain Philip Trainor, who had a particularly good first half scored one himself – getting in on the act before the serious business of lifting the cup began.
This was history in the making. Ardee St Marys’ young charges made it in style.
ARDEE ST MARYS: Alan McGauley, Cian Taaffe, Philip Trainor (0-01), Killian Scott, Lorcan Dixon, Donal McKenny, Gavin Kirk (1-00), Liam Jackson, Conor Hennessey (0-01), Jonathan Commins (2-13), Conor Gillespie (1-02), Ciaran Keenan (1-01), Carl Gillespie (0-01), Joe Mulholland, Shane Matthews (0-01).
Subs: Tristan Knowles (0-01) for Shane Matthews (48), Andrew Bingham for Carl Gillespie (51), Tiarnan Corrigan (1-00) for Gavin Kirk, David Conlon for Jonathan Commins, James McDonald for Ciaran Keenan.
GERALDINES: Ciaran Peelo, Eoghan O’Hara, Matthew Fee, Ros Kelly, Dylan Sharkey, Dan Corcoran, Padriag O’Cuinneagan, Ben Mooney (0-02), Jack Reid (0-01), Conor Soraghan (0-01), Flyn Kieran (0-01), David Murdock (1-00), Oisin Meegan, Conor McGowan, Fedhelm Joyce (1-04).
Subs: Jack Connolly for Eoghan O’Hara (24), Ronan Green for David Murdock (31)
REFEREE: Anthony Briscoe