Naomh Mairtin 1-15 St Mochtas 0-07
Naomh Mairtin made it back-to-back Louth senior championship titles with a comfortable win over St. Mochta's.
In what was the Mochta's first ever showpiece, the contrast in the finalists' experience was apparent throughout.
The reigning champions used all their know-how to win by 11 points on the day.
Ardee had not hosted a senior decider since 2002 and 19 years later with the novel surroundings in tow, it took the familiar sight of a Sam Mulroy free to settle the blue riband event down. The county full forward curled over the opener from 14 yards out.
Playing in their fourth successive final, Naomh Mairtin took control and their emotions better and added to Mulroy’s settler through Conor Whelan and John Clutterbuck. The champions have learnt the hard way having noticeably lost their first two.
Former Louth player JP Rooney then had a chance for the reigning champions the mercurial corner man shot was batted away by Jason Callan at the near post.
That spurned effort seemed to inject some urgency into the first time finalists, St.Mochta’s into action. They briefly put the occasion behind them and focused on getting on the scoreboard.
County star Declan Byrne landed to badly needed scores for the underdogs to finally settle their nerves. After that, the Louth Village side grew into the game and looked to keep possession as much as possible through wing backs Oisin Callan and Liam Lawlor.
With the game brimming to a boil nicely, Sam Mulroy found himself bearing down on goal and Danny Kindlon, sensing the danger, came right across the cover to foul Mulroy. The cynical act was greeted with a black card.
Mulroy pointed the free himself just before the late first half water break. With St.Mochta’s down to 14 men, the dynamics of the final changed dramatically.
The little momentum Kieran Quinn’s side had built up was wiped out as the Monasterboice based outfit rattled off four unanswered scores in the run into half time. Wayne Campbell landed a fine brace to make it 0-08 to 0-02 at the interval.
Declan Byrne equalled his first half tally with a brace of free’s but Mochta’s were yet to score from play. Mairtin’s pressure at the back was relentless and they made it triple scores 0-12 to 0-04 at the second half water break thanks to points again from their reliable trio of Mulroy, Whelan and Clutterbuck.
The final quarter was a masterclass in game management. Mochta’s to their credit threw everything at the reigning Champions but could not find the required pressure thanks to the wall of royal blue jerseys.
Mulroy rightfully had the final say, lashing home a penalty in the final quarter before lifting the Joe Ward Cup for the second time in the clubs history.
Naomh Mairtin: Craig Lynch; Conor Morgan, Thomas Sullivan, Conor Healy; John Clutterbuck (0-02), Seán Healy, Mark Whelan; Wayne Campbell (0-02), Evan Whelan; Jack Murphy (0-01), Eoghan Callaghan, Stephen Campbell; Conor Whelan (0-03, 0-01f, 0-01m), Sam Mulroy(1-07, 1-0pen 0-06f, 0-01 45’ ), JP Rooney.
Subs: Bryan McQuillan for JP Rooney (42), Val Leddy for Murphy (53), Mick Fanning for Morgan (54), Connor Smyth for Callaghan (56), Eoghan Wright for Clutterbuck (60).
St. Mochtas: Jason Callan; Andrew English, Ben Goss Kieran, David Lennon; Liam Lawlor, Conor Garland, Oisin Callan; Gerry Garland, Danny Kindlon; Jamie Farrell, Philip Englishby, Craig Lennon; Darren McMahon; Declan Byrne (0-06, 0-06f), Ciarán Byrne (0-01, 0-01f).
Subs: Stephen McCooey for O Callan (35), Ciaran McMahon for Farrell (46), Cormac Smyth for Goss Kieran (53), Owen Lennon for English (59), Eamonn O’Neill for McCooey (66).
Referee: Derek Ryan (Sean O’Mahony’s)