Newtown Blues left it late to claimed their 22nd Louth senior championship title over maiden finalists Naomh Mairtin on a crisp autumn day in the Gaelic Grounds in Drogheda.

The reigning champions tightened their grip at the top of the roll of honour list in what what was the Drogheda kingpins first back-to-back success since 2001.

The level of expectation seemed to weigh on holders, as the trailed for majority of the contest. 

Conor Branigan will be the toast of Newfoundwell as the wing forward drove his side back from the brink and kicked the winning score in the very last minute of the game.

The turning point came when the Monasterboice outfit lost their goalkeeper Craig Lynch with 15 minutes remaining to a somewhat avoidable black card.

Five points ahead, everything seemed to be going well in their debut final until the county netminder ventured from his small parallelogram and lost possession. He had no choice but to pull the attacker down and the disruption proved costly for his side.

As the inevitable pressure mounted, Ross Nally found the net for the Drogheda side after Branigan turned provider with a blistering run while adding a point in between two Ciaran Downey frees.

Newtown outscored Naomh Mairtin 1-5 to 0-02 in that match-winning period down the home stretch. 

The underdogs had taken a commanding six-point lead into the break, with inspiration coming from the unlikeliest of sources, cornerback Paul Berrill.

Berrill followed his marker up the field and continued his run only to find himself in front of goal. Though his first shot was smothered, he made no mistake with his second attempt. 

Former county star JP Rooney came off the bench and scored with his first touch and Conor Whelan notched a brace as all looked cosy at that stage for the team known locally as the Jocks. They led 1-6 to 0-3 at the break. 

That deserved cushion looked to be the foundation of success as Naomh Mairtin soaked up the unrelenting pressure with Sam Mulroy keeping the scoreboard ticking with three frees in the second period and edging them nearer and nearer to destiny.

However after the goalkeeping malaise ensued the champions used all their composure and ate into the deficit as the challengers lost theirs .

Newtown Blues: Dean Martin; Fergal Donohoe, Emmet Carolan, Paul Moore; Kevin Carr, Cormac Reynolds, Johnny Connolly; Stephen Moonan, John Kermode; Andy McDonnell, Conor Moore, Conor Branigan (0-02); Colm Judge(0-02, 2f), Ross Nally(1-00), Ciaran Downey (0-06, 5f).

Subs used: Rob Carr (0-01) for C Moore (25), Hugh McGinn for C Reynolds (HT),Ian Connor for J Connolly (35), Jamie Kelly for K Carr (50), Alan Connor for C Judge (58).

Naomh Mairtin: Craig Lynch; Paul Berrill (1-0), Mick Fanning, Shane Campbell; Thom Sullivan, Eoghan Callaghan, John Clutterbuck; Conor Morgan, Wayne Campbell;  Stephen Campbell, Bryan McQuillian (0-01), Conor Healy; Padraig McDonagh, Sam Mulroy(0-05, 4f), Conor Whelan(0-03,1f).

Subs used: JP Rooney (0-01) for P McDonagh (18), Darren Morgan for C Lynch BC (45), Eoin Wright for B McQuillian (61).

Referee: Jonathon Conlon (O’Connells)