An assured first half performance in front of the posts was enough for Ardee St Marys to see off Hunterstown Rovers in round one of the Paddy Sheelan Cup, as the mid-Louth neighbours kicked off the 2020 club season in Louth on a bitterly cold evening at Pairc Baile Fiach.
The Marys made one of the shortest trips in the county for an away side – a whole one-and-a-half kilometres – up the N2 to Hunterstown in a rescheduled fixture which may or may not prove to be one of the few club matches played in the county over the weekend. Storm Ciara, afterall, is upon is.
It was Hunterstown that were blown away in a first half which ended with the Marys in front by 11 points, largely courtesy of Kian Moran’s two goal salvo. The first came from a penalty after he was felled in front of goal. On the stroke of half time he was at it again. His effort flew over the head of Rovers’ keeper Marc Ward and nestled in the net.
The Marys had dominated up to that point. Tiarnan Corrigan had begun the scoring before Ronan Carroll and Rovers’ Brendan Lennon swapped scores. Jamie Rooney, Conor Gillespie and Paudy Clarke all split the posts for the Marys before Hunterstown’s second score from a Tony McKenna free. Dean Burns had won the award.
When Hunterstown did work the ball forward, with Burns and Landy working hard and moving intelligently in the forward line to their credit, they lacked the killer instinct their opponents could provide. Too often Rovers’ attempts were short and easy for James McGillick. Brendan Lennon’s attempt at goal lacked the necessary curl to see the inside of the post.
The visitors were missing a number of inter-county players at senior and Under 20 level with games to come to this weekend. Jacksons Liam and Tom, Donal McKenny, Ciaran Keenan, Luke Matthews and Carl Gillespie sat out. Hunterstown’s Ryan Burns is injured.
Having hit a 45 over and notched one from open play, Conor Gillespie scored a free from closer in to extend the Marys lead and when Moran’s effort found the net there seemed little chance of a contest breaking out on a dark Friday night in Ardee. But to their credit, they were much improved after the interval.
The wind may have been against Hunterstown, but the tide of the game was not. That it swung their way owed much to Paul Carrie’s treble in the space of as many minutes. Tony McKenna began to win ball in the middle of the park, against the duo of veteran Ronan Carroll and youngster Evan Malone. The Marys did suffer a blow to lose Mark Fay to a finger injury at half time, too.
After good work from Patrick Taaffe and Glen Mathews, Carrie had his third and soon after Landy spun and put over. Darren Clarke’s close range free stemmed the tide and then Gillespie followed suit minutes later to put nine between the teams. The Marys, at least, were not liable to miss presentable chances like that.
Hunterstown hit five answered scores to close out the match but the goal they needed to really force a debate over the game’s outcome never looked like arriving. Jason Monaghan went as close as anyone. His shot hit the bar on it’s way over. Two more from Glen Mathews and one each from Landy and Carrie at least put some respectability on the score and ensured a handsome ‘second-half’ win.
Mattock Rangers and Kilkerley Emmets complete the set in Group E of the Paddy Sheelan Cup with the teams set to face eachother on Sunday.
HUNTERSTOWN ROVERS: Marc Ward, Paddy Mooney, Patrick Taaffe, Martin Lennon, Keith Brennan, Muiris O’Sullivan, David Finn, Tony McKenna, Jason Monaghan, Glen Mathews, Paul Carrie, Brendan Lennon, Colm Murphy, Alan Landy, Dean Burns.
Subs: Jamie Ward for Colm Murphy (47), Richie Cunningham for David Finn (48), Paul Doherty for Paddy Mooney (53).
ARDEE ST MARYS: James McGillick, Gavin Kirk, Niall Eccles, Karl Faulkner, Kian Moran, Conor Keenan, Jonathan Commins, Ronan Carroll, Evan Malone, Tiarnan Corrigan, Paudy Clarke, Jamie Rooney, Mark Fay, Darren Clarke, Conor Gillespie.
Subs: Cian Commins for Mark Fay (31), Tristan Knowles for Jamie Rooney (51), Eimhin Keenan for Jonathan Commins (51).