Naomh Mairtin 2-16 Rathvilly 1-05
Naomh Mairtin's delayed debut in the Leinster club championship was worth the wait, as the Louth Champions convincingly beat Rathvilly by 14 points at a sun-kissed Haggardstown.
Having claimed their first Louth senior title last season, the pandemic denied Naomh Mairtin the opportunity to test themselves in the province until this season.
And having ruled ruled the Wee county once again in 2021, they were in determined mood right from the off.
While freshly crowned Carlow champions Rathvilly, on the other hand, only enjoyed county success last weekend and with that short turnaround they were always going to be up against it.
The match was a cagey affair until Conor Whelan’s 25th-minute goal and in truth, the Monasterboice based outfit never looked back from that point onwards.
Val Leddy quickly added another goal in a match-winning 2-02 in the final minutes of the first half for the hosts.
Top scorer in the Louth Championship, Sam Mulroy could have had a goal in between, but he was happy to take his point, However, the club and county captain will no doubt be setting his sights on Leinster accolades after finishing the game with eight points.
Kevin Murphy was excellent for his struggling Rathvilly side all afternoon, the wing forward scored a brace in the first half to make it 2-07 to 0-04 at the interval but their was an air of inevitability about the contest at that stage.
A Jake Elliott free supplied Pat Ryan’s charges the fiery start they required but with Mulroy’s accuracy from dead balls, Naomh Mairtin always remained in control.
With the game all but decided, the Louth club could enjoy their maiden voyage and special occasion thoroughly, none more so than Mairtin's midfielder, Wayne Campbell, who landed a terrific brace. Substitute Conor O’Neill did scramble home a goal for Rathvilly to add some gloss to the scoreline.
Veteran JP Rooney came off the bench with the days loudest applause to clip over the final score for the Louth champions, who now face Shelmaliers of Wexford at home in a fortnight's time.
Naomh Mairtin: Craig Lynch; Mark Whelan, Thom Sullivan, Conor Morgan (0-01); John Clutterbuck, Seán Healy, Conor Healy; Wayne Campbell (0-02), Evan Whelan, Val Leddy (1-01), Eoghan Callaghan, Stephen Campbell; Sam Mulroy (0-08, 0-05f), Conor Whelan (1-03), Bryan McQuillan.
Subs: JP Rooney (0-01, 0-01f) for McQuillan (47) Paul Berrill for Callaghan (54) Joe McGrane for S Campbell (57), Connor Smyth for M Whelan (57).
Rathvilly: Tom Pilkington; Jeffrey O’Donoghue, Barry John Molloy, Dara Curran; Pauric Deering, Conor Doyle, Josh Moore; Brendan Murphy, Ed Finnegan; Kevin Murphy (0-02), Alan Kelly (0-01, 0-01s/l), Eric Molloy; Brian Murphy (0-01, 0-01f) , Brian Smith, Jake Elliott (0-01, 0-01f).
Subs: Padhraig Bolger for Kelly (42), Conor O’Neill (1-00) for Elliott (44) Diarmuid Gavin for O’Donoghue (47) Luke Coleman for Brian Murphy (47), Padraic Byrne for Deering(47)
Referee: Fergal Smyth (Offaly)