GRAHAM Geraghty's hopes of playing senior club football at the ripe old age of 41 in 2014 were never a realistic prospect as his side flopped in the IFC decider at Pairc Tailteann on Sunday.
Player-manager Geraghty wore the number 14 jersey but played much of the opening half in a sweeper role, before reverting to the edge of the square at the change of ends. He was always in the thick of the action, had a few run-ins with referee David Gough and received a yellow card after 21 minutes. However, his side never seriously threatened to cause an upset and break into the senior ranks for the first time ever.
Gaeil Colmcille, runners-up two years ago, struggled to reproduce the sparkling form shown in the semi-final win over Castletown but always looked likely to gain compensation for the final defeat of their hurlers a week previously. They dominated proceedings from start to finish, and while they only led by four points in the 37th minute they hit nine points without reply after that to record the biggest winning margin in the decider since O'Mahony's demolition job of Carnaross a decade ago.
And while the Athboy men struggled in most departments, their weakness in attack proved a major handicap. Caoimhin O Griofa was their only forward to score from play over the hour. Their two other points from play came courtesy of wing back Aaron Ryan, while their remaining points were from frees converted by captain Gary Woods.
Gaeil Colmcille, manager by former county favourite Jody Devine, had a much more potent forward division, with Seamus Mattimoe, Danny McGovern, Stephen McManus and Brian Hanlon all outstanding.
Gary Arkins played a captain's role at midfield, while Robert Flanagan, Stephen Reddy and Michael Foley were never seriously tested in defence.
Despite failing to convert a 23rd-minute penalty the Kells outfit still led 0-8 to 0-3 at the break. They were ahead 0-6 to 0-1 when Brian Hanlon was fouled by full back Darren Kelly, but keeper Trevor Wallace kept his side's interest alive for a little bit longer with a fine save from Hanlon's spot kick.
The Kells keeper, Justin Carry Lynch, was also in action in that opening period as he saved well from Aaron Lynch to deny Clann na nGael a timely boost on 20 minutes.
Danny McGovern increased the lead with the opening point of the second half, before Ryan and O Griofa replied at the other end to leave it 0-9 to 0-5. However, the losers failed to score again after that as the Kells men eventually pressed home their superiority on the scoreboard.
Livewire corner forward Mattimoe notched four points in that period, while McGovern came close to finding the net but was thwarted by a fine save from Athboy keeper Trevor Wallace.
The winners had Seanie Curran sent off in added time, but it didn't spoil the celebrations at the final whistle.
GAEIL COLMCILLE: J C Lynch; P Tormay, M Foley, J Quigley; S Reddy, R Flanagan, L Ferguson; G Arkins 0-1, B Smith; S Curran, D McGovern 0-3, S McManus 0-3; S Mattimoe 0-5 (2f), M Barrett 0-1, B Hanlon 0-5 (3f, 1 '45). Subs: C Keegan for L Ferguson (42), O Reilly for NcGovern (55), B Farrelly for Hanlon (58), K Reilly for McManus (59), B Tormay for Quigley (59).
CLANN NA NGAEL: T Wallace; C Kelly, D Kelly, G Brown; A O Colla, D O Griofa, A Ryan 0-2; A Fox, B Duffy; R MacDonnacha, G Woods 0-2 (2f), C O Griofa 0-1; G Hanley, G Geraghty, C Fitzsimons. Subs: D Tuite for Fox (23), A Ennis for Duffy (47), L Swaine for Fitzsimons (51), G Mangan for Hanley (53), P Garry for C Kelly (57).
REF: David Gough (Slane)