Hat-trick hero Kevin Gilmartin’s stoppage-time strike gave Sligo their first Lory Meagher Cup triumph  in a thrilling Croke Park final.

Goals from Galimartin (2) and Eoin Comerford had Sligo in the driving seat, but Ronan Crowley and Edmond Kenny netted for the Exiles, and they were level at 3-08 to 2-11 at the break.

The sides were level on five occasions in the second half, and Kenny, with 1-07 and Crowley (1-10), appeared to have won it for Lancashire, but Gilmartin struck right at the death.

Gary Cadden and skipper Keith Raymond fired over long range scores to nudge the Connacht men ahead, and following a series of wasteful Lancashire attacks, they increased the lead with an eighth minute goal.

Ronan Crowley and James Fitzmaurice were on target as the Exiles got their challenge going, but they were set back when Edmond Kenny grabbed a second goal for the Yeatsmen, finishing first-time from close range off Greg Jacob’s booming delivery.

Stephen Duncan worked hard around midfield to ignite Lancashire’s challenge, but poor finishing stalled their efforts, until Crowley converted his third free at the end of the opening quarter.

Suddenly it all fell into place for the men from across the Irish Sea. With Jacob, Duncan and Fitzmaurice driving forward with authority, they began to rack up the scores, and two goals in the space of five minutes turned a seven points deficit into a narrow lead.

Crowley latched on to Kenny’s touch to hit the net, and the goal-scorer turned provider for Kenny to grab a second, giving his side  the lead for the first time in the 32nd minute.

But Sligo turned the game back in their favour when Comerford netted a penalty, awarded for a foul on Larry Cadden, bringing them level at 3-07 to 2-09 lead into the interval.

It was point for point throughout the third quarter as the sides went level on four occasions.

Crowley, who had converted six first half frees, fired over three superb scores from play, while Keith Raymond and Comerford were both on target from Sligo frees.

Sligo full back Conor O’Mahony had to dig deep to repel a couple of dangerous raids, as the Exiles stepped up the tempo once again, while Conor O’Mahony performed heroics at the back for Lancashire as they came under renewed pressure.

Full forward Kenny was causing serious problems, and helped himself to a couple of tidy scores as Lancashire pushed three clear going into the final ten minutes.

Sligo responded through Kevin Banks, with his third, and Joe McHugh, but another brace from Kenny restored the three points cushion.

As the Connacht side pressed going into the finals stages, Tom Brennan defended courageously to clear the danger, and there was some last ditch defending as the men in black pushed relentlessly for that vital score.

And they got it in the 71st minute when substitute Tony O’Kelly-Lynch sent Gilmartin through to pick his spot for a brilliant hat-trick and a sensational winner.

Sligo: D Reidy; J Weir, C O’Mahony, T Brennan; D Collery, K Raymond (0-02), N Feehily; R Cox (0-01), G Cadden (0-01); J McHugh (0-02), E Comerford (1-05, 1-00 pen, 0-04f), K Banks (0-03); G O’Kelly-Lynch (0-01), K Gilmartin (3-00), L Caddden.

Subs: G O’Kelly-Lynch for L Cadden (42), N McDermott for G Cadden (54), K Prior for Collery (56), M Davey for O’Mahony (60), M Burke for Feehily (69)

Lancashire: V Morrisey; L Knocker, R Mullins, J Cleere; D O’Brien (0-01), G Jacob, N Unwin; S Duncan, J Fitzmaurice (0-01); D Crowley, T Dunne, JJ Dunphy (0-01); D Maskey, E Kenny (1-07), R Crowley (1-10, 0-6f).

Subs: S Hannon for Duane (56), S Dunne for Duncan (60), S Power for Dunphy (69), C Larkin for Maskey (71)

Referee: K McGeeney (Roscommon)