For the first time in quite a while St Pat’s were made to work for a championship win.
They had to break a sweat to reach this year’s semi finals and a lot of praise must go to Michael McConville’s Ardee side for that.
St Mary’s showed real strength and belief in pushing the Lordship Giants all the way in Haggardstown on Saturday night.
That Pat’s conceded two goals is something of a shock in itself – Fergal Reel’s men don’t like to see a green flag waved against them. In fact they had only conceded one goal in the previous two championship seasons.
In the end, though, they still know how to win. Nearing the end of Saturday’s match any sense of panic that might have entered the Pat’s players’ minds was not to be entertained. They simply found another level and closed it out.
Paddy Keenan came into his own during that period. He conducted his teammates from midfield, patrolling and probing sometimes in the same fluid motion.
St Mary’s went at it from the off. Massive underdogs they may have been, yet they seemed to relish it.
They were a goal and two points ahead by the tenth minute. The goal was a nice bit of finishing from Paudy Clarke having been teed up by Ronan Carroll.
The men from Lordship hadn’t even begun yet. They looked slow and certainly didn’t expect such a ferocious early charge from St Mary’s.
They eventually countered with two scores from Eamon Carroll and Karl White. But once more St Mary’s stepped it up and hit two of their own through Fergal Diamond and Mark Fay.
That left ten minutes to the break with St Patrick’s trailing by five. There was the slightest sense of panic from the sidelines. But only from the Green and White fans. Fergal Reel kept walking the line and issuing orders. He wasn’t about to hit the panic button just yet.
They were missing three crucial players in Owen Zamboglou, Jamie O’Hare and Paudie Mallon.
Other teams would struggle with three big players absent from their ranks.
And for those first twenty minutes it looked like St Pat’s were finding it difficult, but it was a false dawn.
They rattled off four points inthe closing minutes of the first half to trail by just one.
It was beginning to look like the sleeping giant had stirred. They hit three more at the start of the second half. To coast into the lead. St Mary’s luck seemed to have run out.
But then they got a point and a goal. Dean Matthews got both. The goal itself came about due to a strange error from Pat’s keeper Sean Connor.
The netminder rushed out of his goal to seemingly claim the ball but got lost in the traffic. Matthews fell to the ground, but still managed to hook the ball into the net. It was back on now.
Back in the lead by one, St Mary’s failed to build on it and Reel’s men surged back into the lead soon afterwards. Thanks to points from Carroll and Eoin O’Connor.
Mary’s tied the match with six minutes left and looked to push on.
But they couldn’t do it. When they needed to show more for the ball they seemed to shrivel and Pat’s know how to kill teams off. And that they did. Keenan, White and O’Connor got the last three scores to take Pat’s into the semi finals and a clash with Newtown Blues.
Scorers St Patrick’s Paddy Keenan (0-5, 3f), Karl White (0-4), Eamon Carroll (0-3 3f), Eoin O’Connor (0-1), Ray Finnegan (0-1), Daniel O’Connor (0-1).
St Mary’s Paudy Clarke (1-3, 2f), Dean Matthews (1-1), Mark Fay (0-1), Fergal Diamond (0-1).
St Patrick’s: Sean Connor; Kevin Toner, Dessie Finnegan, Darren O’Hanlon; Ray Finnegan, Colin Goss, Eoghan Lafferty; Paddy Keenan, Alan O’Connor; Eamon Carroll, Eoin O’Connor, Aidan McCann; Evan White, Karl White, Daniel O’Connor. Subs: Martin Breen for C Goss, 46 mins.
Ardee St Mary’s: Duane Crosbie; Alan McKenny, John Bingham, Niall Carroll; Paul Malone, Eamon O’Callaghan, Shane McCoy; Robert Leavy, Donal Matthews; Fergal Diamond, Paudy Clarke, Mark Fay; Ronan Carroll, Dean Matthews, Alan Kirk. Subs: Robert Keenan for A McKenny, 21 mins; Barry Faulkner for M Fay, 38 mins; Jamie Rooney for A Kirk, 53 mins.
REFEREE: Stephen Johnson.