THEY'VE been the in-form teams of 2012, but as the curtain finally came down on a long, hard season it was county champions St Patrick's who declared themselves the undisputed kings of Louth football at Dowdallshill on Sunday.
The final scoreline may not have done O'Connell's first-half efforts justice, but it perfectly summed up Pat's supremacy in the second, as Fergal Reel's men cruised to their first league and championship double since 2003.
The Armagh native has now completed the 'full set' of trophies in two seasons, winning the Championship and Paddy Sheelan Cup in 2011, before adding another, more prestigious, double on Sunday.
For O'Connells it was a day of mixed emotions. This was their fourth final of the season, and while they won the only one that really mattered, the three defeats will hurt too. They will make a long-awaited return to the senior ranks next term, confident they can hold their own, but this was also a stark reminder of what it takes to compete at the very top level.
That said, Pats are out on their own in Louth club football at the moment and, of course, having Paddy Keenan in your team helps too!
The Louth captain was at his scintillating best on Sunday, scoring seven points from play - with both feet as usual - and converting two frees for an impressive personal tally of nine.
But more than that, he transformed the Pats after half-time, instilling an urgency and sense of purpose that was mostly absent from their first-half display.
They did adjourn with their noses in front, 0-6 to 0-5, but O'Connells were more than holding their own, particularly in the midfield battleground.
Wayne McKeever's men led twice in the opening half; Jackie Agnew (operating at midfield) opened the scoring and Stuart Reynolds made it 0-5 to 0-4 with a brilliant free-kick on 23 minutes.
But Pats are always danegrous and they will feel they should have hit the net before half-time, as the normally reliable Karl White struck the outside of a post with a penalty in the 22nd minute, before Daniel O'Connor blazed wide with the goal at his mercy four minutes later.
Despite those misses Keenan and Eamon Carroll that kept Pats ticking over and the midfield maestro ensured his side led at the break, kicking the last two scores of the half
Karl White stretched that lead after the restart, but it was Keenan who grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck, helping Pats to completely dominate at midfield and then pop up with some superb scores.
He made it 0-9 to 0-6 with a free and a point from play and then found the taregt with a stunning left-footed effort from wide on the left.
Carroll was also in determined mood after the restart and the captain for the day kicked a sidline from a near impossible angle to rival Keenan for the score of the match accolade.
Such was Pat's dominance, O'Connell's only managed one point in 25 second-half minutes and even that was a Paul McKeever free.
Pat's were four clear within four minutes of the resumption and by the end of the third quarter the game had slipped from O'Connell's grasp as Carroll's exquisite sideline made 0-13 to 0-6.
It got worse as Keenan, Aidan McCann and Carroll stretched the lead to 10 points and that was the difference between the sides at the finish as Evan White and Keenan had efforts cancelled out by John Flanagan and McKeever, from another free.
Noel Hand's final whistle couldn't come quick enough for O'Connell's and no doubt there were a few sighs of relief too, as it also brought closure to a gruelling season.
There were some near misses, but the Holy Grail of senior football is back on the agenda at The Grove and that was the only real objective when the hard work started back in January.
For Pats - and every other senior club in the county - Fergal Reel's future will be the big question on everybody's lips, during what is now going to be a very short close-season.
Having masterminded back-toback Joe Ward triumphs, he might feel he has taken the team as far as he can, but if there is another county title in this hugely talented group of players it would see them achieve the first three-in-a-row in Louth since their neighbours Cooley Kickhams back in the late '70s. In fact, it's a feat only Cooley and Newtown Blues (four-in-a-row '61-64) have achieved.
Fully aware that it's an onerous task, Reel may still be tempted to put his famed motivational powers to the ultimate test and if Pats did manage to pull it off, there would be the added bonus of another crack at Leinster glory too.
The rewards are portntially huge and, after landing four trophies in two years, the risks are minimal in terms of his managerial CV....watch this space! ST PATRICK'S: Sean Connor; Owen Zamboglou, Dessie Finnegan, Darren O'Hanlon; Eamon Breen, Colin Goss, Ray Finnegan; Paddy Keenan 0-9 (0-2f), Paudie Mallon; Evan White 0-1, Karl White 0-2, Aidan McCann 0-1; Eamon Carroll 05 (0-2f, 0-1 s/l), Eoin O'Connor, Daniel O'Connor. Subs: Kevin Toner for E Breen (50), Colin McCann for D O'Connor (54), Martin Breen for E O'Connor (54), Paddy White for A McCann (57), Conor Loughran for E White (60). O'CONNELLS: Sean Connolly; Andrew Shields, Conor Byrne, PJ Tuite; Salem Rifaie, David Doyle, Jason Carroll; Jackie Agnew 0-1, Sean Cairns; Andrew Sharkey, John Flanagan 0-1, Paul McKeever 0-4; Robert Quigley 0-1, Stuart Reynolds, 0-1f Cian Doyle. Subs: Killian Shields for PJ Tuite (29), Stephen Hoey for S Rifaie (45), Conor McGill for J Carroll (53), Keith Woods for S Cairns (53).
REFEREE: Noel Hand.