30 Sept 2022

Louth Senior Championship: Dogged Naomh Martin shake off determined St. Patrick's

Louth Senior Championship: Dogged Naomh Martin shake off determined St. Patrick's

Naomh Máirtín's Sam Mulroy (Pic: Arthur Kinahan)

Naomh Mairtin 1-7
St Patricks 0-9

It may not have been his best day in a Blue jersey, but in the end it was a sublimely worked goal from Sam Mulroy that proved key for Naomh Mairtin, as they narrowly accounted for a hungry St Patrick’s at the Grove.

The Louth captain was off his game when it came to placekicking, yet still took the opportunity to grab a three pointer on 25 minutes to put the reigning champions two in front, along with his side’s final point on 59 minutes.

That ultimately proved to be the decider in a contest where they were rarely more than two in front, having struggled to ever shake off the threat posed by the Lordship men.

While Mulroy was off his game from frees, dropping two short and missing three in the first half, in Cathal Grogan St Pats had a man in-form. He sunk eight on the night as they kept in touch with the Jocks right up until the final whistle.

One such free three minutes into injury time brought the gap back to just a point. They duly won the ball back from the resulting kickout and despite losing it again to a loose pass, Dessie Finnegan worked hard to get his team back into possession in the opposition half.

However, despite looking like he may have been fouled as he tried to plough forward, referee Colm McCullough instead awarded a free out. From here Naomh Mairtin held their nerve, keeping the ball long enough to book their place in the Semi-finals. A date with Ardee St Marys.

It only took 16 seconds for Fergal Reel’s side to open the scoring, a lovely team move finished off by the returning Eoghan Callaghan. Pats bounced back quickly as Grogan grabbed his opening free of the contest on two minutes.

The Jocks started the tie the brighter, they looked very slick on the ball and showed a patient approach up front as they slowly turned defence into attack.

They regained the lead seconds after Grogan’s free via Conor Whelan, but despite creating seven of the next eight scoring opportunities, they failed to make this prolonged time on the ball count on the scoreboard.

Mulroy was uncharacteristically poor from placed balls, dropping two early efforts short and missing another two from the far wing well wide of the target. Another miss later in the half saw freetaking delegated to Whelan and John Clutterbuck in the second half.

At the eight time of asking and after an 18-minute barren spell, it was Tom Gray that gave their large traveling support something to cheer about with a nice score in the corner. However, this was negated by two Pats score from Grogan either side if that white flag on 11 and 23 minutes.

Both were got with a little help from Jack Murphy in the corner. Throughout the first half Johnny Magee’s side favoured a direct approach, which largely centred on launching the ball into the corner where they could rely on the wily forward to win possession and crucially gain close range frees.

With six minutes of normal time left in the first half they led by one, 0-4 to 0-3, all courtesy of frees. But while wasteful from range, the Jocks were a different animal when moving the ball faster and getting scoring opportunities closer to goal. As was seen in their vital goal.

A quickly taken kickout saw Clutterbuck come into possession. His pacey solo run teed the ball up nicely for the Louth Captain, who took no prisoners when burying past former county keeper Martin McEneaney. That left them in front, 1-3 to 0-4 at the break.

Tactically the game shifted in the second half, The Martins playing a more direct style which had Clutterbuck front and centre as the playmaker, turning defence into attack with accurate kick passing.

Meanwhile the men from Lordship favoured a running game, menacing solo runs from the likes of Eoin and Alan O’Connor, as well as Grogan himself, all with the ultimate goal of forcing frees which he calmly dispatched throughout the 60 minutes.

Four of these placed balls kept them in touch and saw them come close on numerous occasions to pegging back the reigning champions. But they always stayed one step ahead. Second half efforts from Conor Healy, Whelan (2) and Mulroy getting them over the line. But just barely.

Naomh Mairtin: Craig Lynch; Mick Fanning, Thomas Sullivan, Conor Healy (0-1); John Clutterbuck, Sean Healy, Conor Morgan; Wayne Campbell, Val Leddy; Paul Berrill, Eoghan Callaghan (0-1), Jack Murphy; Conor Whelan (0-3, 0-2 frees), Sam Mulroy (1-1), Tom Gray (0-1). Subs: Evan Whelan for Berrill (46), Mark Whelan for Healy (49), Dara McDonnell for Gray.

St Patricks: Martin McEneaney; Kevin Toner, Conor Grogan, Eoghan Lafferty; Rory Duffy, Ciaran Murphy, Darren O’Hanlon; Dessie Finnegan, Leonard Grey; Aidan McCann, Joe Connor, Matthew Pagni; Jack Murphy, Cathal Grogan (0-8 frees), Eoin O’Connor (0-1). Subs: Alan O’Connor for Duffy (HT), Jason Woods for Jack Murphy (36), Darren Connor for Pagni (43), Tadgh O’Connor for McCann (50).

Referee: Colm McCullough

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