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Marys Minors: How they reached the cusp of a double

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Conor Gillespie pictured in the 2017 Minor Championship Final at the Gaelic Grounds. Photo Credit: Adrian Crawley.
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This article originally appeared on ThisIsArdee.ie

Four weeks to the day since Ardee St Marys Minors’ clinched a historic first Minor Championship in 30 years, Tommy Kirk’s young side will take to the field at Darver on Sunday afternoon – standing on the cusp of league and championship double success. Much has been spoken about the class of 2017 and sealing a memorable year with a league triumph against Naomh Mairtin will mark them out as truly special.

Here we look back at their league season and remember how the Boys in Blue got to within 60 minutes of a dream double.

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April 3rd 2017 – Mattock Rangers/Hunterstown Rovers GFC 1-07 Ardee St Marys 2-14

The opening game of the league campaign – back in April, seemingly an eternity ago – had a distinct local flavour as the Blues made the very short hop to Collon to face the Mattock Rangers and Hunterstown Rovers combination. Running out comfortable 10 point winners on a Monday evening, it was a great start to the week and the season.

A quick start ensured the Blues were always leading from the front, with Conor Gillespie and Ciaran Keenan getting the goals. Jonny Commins hit 0-04.

April 10th 2017 – Ardee St Marys 4-19 Roche Emmets/St Brides 3-09

Unlike that opener a week earlier, it was the Roche and St Brides combination that were quick out of the traps at Pairc Muire in round two of the league. They hit 1-02 before the Marys registered a score but once that uncharacteristic slow start was behind them, Kirk’s youngsters didn’t let up as they put their opponents to the sword.

They Marys lead by three points at the break and the visitors saw their deficit extended to 13 by the game’s end. Tiarnan Corrigan impressed lining out in midfield alongside Liam Jackson, himself having just joined the inter-county set up for the very first time. Tristan Knowles scored 1-02 in the half forward line while Ciaran Keenan scored 1-03 and James McDonald got 0-04 for himself.

April 27th 2017 – Naomh Mairtin 1-10 Ardee St Marys 1-18

The Marys and this Sunday’s opponents Naomh Mairtin have met just once already in 2017, back in April’s third round clash in Monasterboice. The Ardee team ran out eight point victors that day. A victory of any sort will do on Sunday. This defeat for the Martins was followed by a defeat to Cooley as they finished third in the final table.

All of the forwards took care of the scoring business for the Marys in this hard fought victory. Conor Gillespie, Ciaran Keenan, James McDonald, Carl Gillespie, Jonathan Commins and Shane Matthews shared the 1-18.

Goalkeeper Alan McGauley will line out between the sticks for the Marys on Sunday. Photography by Adrian Crawley Photography.
September 4th 2017 – Ardee St Marys vs Dundalk Gaels (W/O)
September 22nd 2017 – Ardee St Marys 7-17 St Patrick’s 0-09

This was an utterly one-sided contest as the Marys cemented their place at the top of the standings in U18 Division 1. Leading 6-09 to 0-05 at the interval, the teenagers only added 1-08 later on as the management team rung the changes to ensure the whole panel saw some action against the team from Lordship.

Shane Matthews – the joint top scorer in the Marys Championship run to date with 2-10 – and Ciaran Keenan hit 3-02 and 2-02 respectively against the side from Lordship. Tristan Knowles scored 1-03 with Joe Mullholland also finding the net and Conor Gillespie hitting 0-03 in total. Midfielder Liam Jackson (0-03) and captain Philip Trainor were also among the points.

The Pats limitations were exposed in what turned into shooting practice for the home team in Ardee. It all helped as the season entered it’s business end. Greater challenges were to come.

October 19th 2017 – Geraldines vs Ardee St Marys (W/O)
October 29th 2017 – Ardee St Marys vs Cooley Kickhams (W/O)
November 5th 2017 – Ardee St Marys 2-15 Geraldines 3-05

Coming up against the team they had ruthlessly dispatched in the Championship final in Drogheda three weeks earlier, the Marys repeated the trick at Pairc Muire in last Sunday’s semi-final. This time, they did so without Jonathan Commins who had hit 2-13 in the Championship showdown.

His Under 16 teammate Carl Gillespie picked up the mantel, scoring 1-06 in this seven point victory. That scoreline made the game seem closer than it was. After a low scoring first half – in which the Marys still came out with a five point lead at the break – the Marys pulled away in the second half and never really looked in danger. Two qucikfire goals from the Gers put on gloss on things from their perspective.

Without Commins and the injured Tom and Liam Jackson, Lorcan Dixon and Joe Mulholland slotted into the Blues XV, with Andrew Bingham also starting. That’s testament to the Marys strength in reserve. It will go a long way to securing success this Sunday.

Ciaran Keenan has carried his impressive Championship and inter-county form in 2017 into league action for Ardee St Marys. Photography by Adrian Crawley Photography.

ARDEE ST MARYS MINORS – TOP LEAGUE GOALSCORERS 2017

  • Ciaran Keenan – 4-15
  • Shane Matthews – 4-07
  • Conor Gillespie – 2-12
  • James McDonald – 0-12
  • Jonathan Commins – 0-11
  • Carl Gillespie – 1-07
  • Tiarnan Corrigan – 1-06
  • Tristan Knowles – 1-03
  • Liam Jackson – 0-04
  • Tom Jackson – 1-01

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