LOUTH SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW

Rooney has experienced both sides of a senior final

St Mary's looking to erase memories of 2003 defeat

Daniel Bannon

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Daniel Bannon

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@DundalkDemocrat

St Mary's v Dreadnots

Ardee St Marys' Ronan Carroll taking on Dreadnots' Barry Faulkner in the Louth SFC semi-final replay in Haggardstown. Picture: Arthur Kinahan

“The years don’t be long going by,” quips Ken Rooney nostalgically. “It’s 13 years since we were in a final and it’s 21 years since we won it. I remember the day well, I remember like it was yesterday, my one and only.”

Ken is one part of a five-man Ardee St Mary’s management team that has steered the mid-Louth men to this year’s Louth Senior Championship final.

Alan his brother, won the Joe Ward alongside Ken in 1995 while Hugh Durrigan was a sub on that day 21 years ago. To bridge the gap even further, Brian Keenan, also a sub in ’95 played in the losing Ardee side in 2003 with Alan McKenny.

The football acumen is there, good and bad.

“We pass it on and try to give our little bit of experience and hope that you would get something across to the boys about believing and giving it their best shot,” added Rooney.

The dream setup that has turned the club around emerged out of a nightmare situation as they were only drafted in after high profile manager Jack Sheehy departed midway through the season. Ken said that both the management team and squad got the perfect start winning the Paddy Sheelan cup.

“It just gave the lads a little bit of belief,” he stated. “We were in the final last year and I don’t know if the lads really believed in themselves.

“Then we went off this year and we won it and it just gave them a bit of a boost going forward that they thought, oh maybe we can contest the Senior Championship.”

However, it’s between the white lines where the destination of the Joe Ward will be decided and Ardee have a side with a nice blend of youth and experience.

“It is a young squad, two Keenans, young McConnon, Brendan Matthews,” agreed Rooney.

“In general, the team is playing well you know yourself when you go into finals you need the bit of experience with you and hopefully we will have that with the likes of Darren Clarke and Ronan Carroll, they’re former county men and you’re hoping that them boys will bring that experience to the younger boys.”

Ken is also wary of the threat that the Sean O’Mahonys pose.

“The O’Mahonys would be favourites going into it now,” he said.  “When you look at it, since they came back up to senior they’ve been contesting Cardinal O’Donnell semi-finals.

“They were in the final of the championship last year, they won the intermediate, they won the Leinster Intermediate, they went to an All Ireland semi. They’re seasoned campaigners so we will be at the pin of our collar to pull it over them.”

Rooney, though, feels his side have more than an outside shout of bringing the trophy back to mid-Louth.

“At the start of the season no-one ever gave us a chance, but here we are in the final.

“Going forward with the club, it’s a great achievement to get to the senior final with the young team that we have.

“The squad is fit and we’re hoping on the day we can put in the performance and get across the line.”