Ardee Community School roared to victory in their first Lennon Cup outing of the season against St Marys on Wednesday, beating the Drogheda outfit by 8-17 to 0-13 points at Darver Centre of Excellence.
Anthony Durnin’s young side turned a 12 point half advantage into a mammoth 28 point victory by the end, in what turned into little more than an exercise in giving as many players in the panel some much needed game time. The Ardee team were never in danger against their opponents and will go into Friday’s rescheduled match against Scoil Ui Muiri of Dunleer in confident mood.
Ciaran Keenan scored 3-04 en route a big win for St Cillian’s – with the match all but finished by the break. The school from Drogheda took an early one point lead but that was as good as it got for them. Keenan, Trevor Matthews, Tristan Knowles and Cathal Fleming all pointed before the first goal arrived.
Full back Cormac Rafferty won the ball in midfield and launched a move upfield which finished when Conor Gillespie turned and fired in. Keenan pointed and then benefitted from a fortuitous goal as the Marys goalkeeper rushed out but failed to take the ball. Trevor Matthews scored amidst a flurry of Marys scores but they side from Drogheda couldn’t reel their opponents in.
With Liam Jackson – who played 45 minutes despite taking a very nasty early blow to the face – put in an impressive show in midfield, Ardee were showing they had the firepower from all areas to capitalise on their supremacy. Neil Kerr pointed after good work from Keenan and the latter added a further 1-01 to his tally before the break. The pacy Shane Matthews showed a clean set of heels to his marker as he ended the first half scoring, leaving it 3-11 to 0-08 at the interval.
Half time saw the first of 14 chances in total for Ardee but their dominance wasn’t tested despite personnel changes. Shane Matthews scored a fine solo goal within 16 seconds of the restart. Andrew Bingham found the net minutes later after a breakaway involving Kerr and Jackson. Fleming and Matthews hit points to leave the score at 5-13 to 0-08.
Two successive scores were the Marys were little consolation in the wake of an onslaught at the other end. Keenan and Bingham added to their goal tallies. More changes lead to positional changes, with youngster Trevor Matthews remaining on the field to lead the Ardee charge. A brilliant point from him left the scores at 7-16 to 0-11 and he departed.
Subs Evan Malone and Dylan White added 1-02 between them late on, the latter finishing off a brilliant team move with Marc Ward heavily involved. All there was for goalkeeper Alan McGauley to do late on was make a point blank save to preserve a clean sheet for him and his backline. His distribution was excellent all morning, an shouldn’t be overlooked as a key component in the Ardee team’s play.
Ardee CS won the Lennon Cup in 2012 and 2013, in a team that featured current Louth inter-county forward Ryan Burns. The Hunterstown Rovers forward made the All-Star team on both years and was joined in the All-Star ranks by the likes of Ardee St Marys duo Ryan Rooney and Conor Keenan and Sean McDermotts’ Emmett Duffy, who captained the side to 2012 success.
Last year, Ardee beat Dunleer’s Scoil Uí Mhuirí in the last eight but their bid for cup success was ended at the semi-final stage. The Ardee teens were beaten 2-9 to 0-12 St Josephs CBS Drogheda in the last four. Despite that loss, forwards Ciaran Keenan and Conor Gillespie (both Ardee St Marys) were voted onto the Lennon Cup 2016 All-Star team.
Prior to the 2012 and 2013 successes, Ardee had to go back 42 years for Lennon Cup success. They won the inaugural competition in 1970 when the school was De La Salle.
ARDEE COMMUNITY SCHOOL: Alan McGauley, Cian Taaffe, Cormac Rafferty, Jack Grimes, Tristan Knowles (0-01), Donal McKenny, Sean Sweeney, Liam Jackson, Neil Kerr (0-01), Conor Gillepsie (1-01), Ciaran Keenan (3-04), Cathal Fleming (0-04), Trevor Matthews (0-02), James McDonald, Shane Matthews (1-02).
Subs: Marc Ward, Ben Quaile, Andrew Bingham (2-00), Barry Cousins, Gavin Kirk, Dylan White (1-01), Craig Englishby, Dean Burns, Caolan O’Callaghan, Aaron Keenan, Andrew Rogers, Jake Gillespie, Jordan Smith, Evan Malone (0-01).