Ardee, St. Mary's celebrates their success. (Pic: Ciarán Culligan)
Minor Football Championship final
Ardee, St. Mary's 6-21 Geraldines 2-10
Ardee, St. Mary’s claimed the Fr. Larry Murray Cup for the first time on Sunday afternoon with a rampageous victory over the Geraldines in Minor Football Championship final at the Gaelic Grounds.
Perhaps the most action-packed decider at this grade in recent times, Ardee always look the safe bet for victory, prior to compounding the Haggardstown side’s misery with three-goals in the closing five-minutes.
Considering the ‘invincibility’ tag that was bestowed upon them in the build-up, it was hardly surprising that Tommy Kirk’s men prevailed, and with Man of the Match Jonathon Commins in remarkable form – scoring 2-13 – they made their superiority count.
The wing-forward's performance typified that of the Deesiders’ in general. Composed in possession and clinical in front of goal, they gave the Gers – chasing their fourth title in 11 years – little chance of remaining in touch.
Feidhelm Joyce did his utmost in attack for the Haggardstown side, though, scoring bursts in either half ensured the winners pulled away, enforcing a rout with their late rush towards the posts.
Their first scoring burst arrived in the opening four-minutes as they reeled off 1-2 before the Gers got off the mark courtesy of a scrambled goal from David Murdock. Commins raised Ardee’s green flag at the end of a flowing move involving Shane Matthews.
Murdock’s major provided the Gers with a boost and having found their feet they eased into a 1-4 to 1-2 advantage with points from Conor Soraghan, Joyce (2) and Ben Mooney (free).
It proved to be a false dawn, though, as the winners powered clear, striking 2-7 before the break with Commins and Conor Gillespie crashing goals past the Gers’ helpless custodian, Ciarán Peelo.
Commins closed the opening-half with 2-4 as St. Mary’s went to the break nine-points in front, a gap they extended to eleven with the opening two-points of the second-half.
But, credit the Gers, they fought back and when Joyce found the net either side of minors from Jack Reid and Flynn Kieran the gap was back to a manageable five with momentum behind them.
Typical of Ardee, though, they found an extra gear when required as Commins fired over seven-points on the trot before the 50th minute and when wing-back Gavin Kirk scored his team’s fourth goal, they were well in the ascendency and double scores ahead; 4-19 to 2-9.
Substitute Tristan Knowles and Commins extended their lead before Ciarán Keenan drove to the net with Joyce scoring a ’45 for the Gers in between – bringing their seventeen-minute wait for a point to an end.
Another replacement, Tiernan Corrigan, added Ardee’s sixth goal and they could have scored a seventh only for Peelo to pull off a fine penalty save from Andrew Bingham with the final play.
On this evidence, you will go a long way before finding a better display, or team for that matter, than this Ardee select.
Ardee, St. Mary’s: Alan McGauley; Cian Taaffe, Philip Trainor (0-1), Killian Scott; Lorcan Dixon, Donal McKenny, Gavin Kirk (1-0); Liam Jackson, Conor Hennessy (0-1); Carl Gillespie (0-1), Ciarán Keenan (1-1), Jonathon Commins (2-13, 0-5 frees); Joe Mulholland, Conor Gillespie (1-2), Shane Matthews (0-1)
Subs: Tristan Knowles (0-1) for Matthews (48), Andrew Bingham for Carl Gillespie (50), Tiernan Corrigan (1-0) for Kirk (58), David Conlon for Commins (58), James McDonald for Keenan (58)
Geraldines: Ciarán Peelo; Ross Kelly, Matthew Fee, Eoghan O’Hora; Dylan Sharkey, Dan Corcoran, Pádraig Cunningham; Ben Mooney (0-2, free and ’45), Jack Reid (0-1, free); David Murdock (1-0), Flynn Kieran (0-1), Conor Soraghan (0-1); Óisín Meegan, Conor McGowan, Feidhelm Joyce (1-5, 0-2 frees and ’45)
Subs: Jack Connolly for O’Hora (23), Ronan Green for Murdock (HT), Liam McDonnell for Meegan (50), Óisín Geoghegan for Dylan Sharkey (51)
Referee: Anthony Briscoe (Stabannon Parnells)