Ardee St Marys secured the Dan McEvoy Cup for the third time in four years in Darver this afternoon – seeing off St Fechins 2-07 to 0-06 to regain their hold on the Junior 2A Championship honours.
Conor Gillespie and Cian Commins scored goals in each half for the Marys, who ran out seven point winners despite seeing a commanding six point lead early in the game ebb away in the match’s middle third. Gillespie was started the game seven days after helping the Minors to historic Championship success – and he played his part here again.
The Marys reached the final on the back of a hard fought semi-final victory over Naomh Mairtin 15 days ago. The Blues had seen off Clan na Gael and St Josephs prior to that, meaning a third final in four years and the chance for a third Junior 2A Championship in that time too.
Of the side that beat St Pats in the 2015 final, several remained and took their place in the line-up at Darver on a windy – as has been the norm lately – afternoon at the Centre of Excellence. Paul Malone, David Woods, Mark Gorman and Cian Commins all started that day and did so again.
Gorman, Malone and Woods, along with 2017 captain Wayne Matthews and Robbie Clarke, have now been involved in all three final triumphs.
Seven minutes were on the clock when Ross Gaynor scored the Marys first point of the game and he slotted a second over the bar almost instantly. By the time Craig Keenan got the Marys third score of the game, when he shot over in when played through in front of goal, the Fechins had hit three wides. Woods also needed to be on hand to deny Fergal McNally when he strode towards goal.
The Blues were on top but not clinical for the majority of the first half. Gaynor and Shane McCoy hit wides but six minutes from half time, a fine move forward involving Gorman and Fergal Diamond ended by Gillespie blasting a shot past Keith McCarthy.
The men from Termonfeckin almost had an instant reply but Marys goalkeeper Paric Malone stretched out his right leg to deny Harry McCarthy. That was a temporary reprieve only for the Blues, who shipped two Harry Haughney frees and a good Evan Kelly effort before the half time whistle. The score was 1-03 to 0-03 in the Marys favour
Within three minutes of the restart, a poor Malone kickout allowed Matthew Flanagan for an easy point. After a good breakaway, Gillespie shot wide of the goal before Gorman was fouled and Diamond slotted over a free. Conor Barnes entered the fray and his physical presence caused a bit of concern in the Marys rearguard. They had a let off when a clearance failed to clear the big man but a goal attempt trickled wide.
There was no such concern for Cian Commins moments later, who showed his finishing prowess to net the Marys second goal, leaving it at 2-04 to 0-04. Gillespie’s well hit free extended that lead. When Gaynor saw an effort crash off the crossbar, Commins pointed and the Marys lead a seemingly unassailable lead.
Minor winners Conor Hennessey and Philip Trainor were introduced in the second half and with Johnny McMahon putting in an impressive show in midfield, the Marys were never overly concerned with what kind of resistance the Fechins offered later on. Haughhey and Flanagan scored their last two points of the day, but Gillespie had the final say with a score in injury time.
After 25 years without success at this grade, the Marys have now lifted this particular cup three times in 36 months.
ARDEE ST MARYS: Pauric Malone, David Woods, Paul Malone, Wayne Matthews, David Carroll, Shane McCoy, Robbie Clarke, Gavin Douglas, Johnny McMahon, Mark Gorman, Fergal Diamond (0-01), Ross Gaynor (0-02), Craig Keenan (0-01), Cian Commins (1-01), Conor Gillespie (1-2).
Subs: Conor Hennessey for Craig Keenan (31), Philip Trainor for Gavin Douglas (42), Brian McCoy for Fergal Diamond (50), Peter Clarke for Mark Gorman (60+1), Killian Scott for Robbie Clarke (60+1)
ST FECHINS: Keith McCarthy, Stephen McEvoy, Leo McGrane, Pete Murphy, Marc Hines, Conor Phillips, Gerard Campbell, Sean McConnell, Padraig O’Donoghue, Alex Phillips, Harry Haughney (0-03), Evan Kelly (0-01), Matthews Flanagan (0-02), Fergal McNally, Harry McCarthy.
Subs: Conor Barnes for Alex Phillips, Cormac Hughes for Fergal McNally.
REFEREE: David J McArdle
Photography for ThisIsArdee.ie by Adrian Crawley Photography.