MANY young footballers from Ardee and the surrounding clubs came of age on Friday night in Darver when they won the firstever Lennon Cup and Louth Colleges Senior Football title for their school in most impressive fashion.
ARDEE CS 4-11 ST MARY'S DS 0-7
The winners set out their stall from the start by putting their three expert finishers in the full forward line, and feeding them with long and quick passes the tactic paid rich dividends. They were good throughout the field also, with St Mary's getting little change out of their defence and their midfield in control.
The Drogheda school had the first two scores from Darren Heeney and Tomas O hOistin and the early exchanges were even enough in a tough and hard-fought contest between two eager teams.
The first signs of real danger for St Mary's didn't come until the eighth minute when the first big attack from Ardee split their defence and Ryan Rooney was on the end of the move to blast to the net. But Ardee were in business again within 60 seconds as Rooney struck his side's second goal to give his side a magnificent start.
Kevin Traynor was in control at midfield and Terry Donegan was getting through a great amount of work, but the St Mary's defence had recovered and they handled the Ardee danger men well coming up to half-time, while upping their performance and playing some excellent football.
However, the Drogheda boys managed just two points through Darren Heeney and Gideon Lugoye during that spell against a defence that was growing in confidence, and St Mary's were then hit with a third and killer goal, this time from Martin Duffy, which left them trailing by five points at half-time.
For all that, the Mary's would have been considerably closer had they converted three scoreable frees, but the body language of the teams after the break spoke volumes, the Ardee lads buoyant and the opposition out of sorts.
Five unanswered points early in the half put paid to the game as a contest as St Mary's had no reply to the power play of Ardee. Ryan Burns showed his class with the first three, Rooney added a point and Burns seemed to have the freedom of the park as he got on target again.
Neil Reilly was a colossus in this half at midfield, and with Paul Taaffe excelling at corner back and substitute Conor Keenan equally effective in the half back line, St Mary's opportunities were limited.
Heeney, Kevin Dunne and O hOistin got three St Mary's points, but the run of the ball was now with Ardee and they added six more points against a tiring defence. Martin Duffy got two, substitute Peter Clarke another and their fourth goal came from a penalty by Burns after he was brought down.
St Mary's were out-played on the night by a much stronger side, but OhOistin, Ben Donnelly, Conor Early, James Marry, Lugoye, Dunne, Padraig McHugh and Heeney did their best to limit the Ardee dominance.
The Ardee defence, well anchored by captain Emmet Duffy, can take credit for holding the St Mary's attack, Reilly and Traynor dominated around the middle and the full forward line scored 4-10 in an awesome display.
Overall, it was a terrific performance from Ardee and a well earned first title for their school in this competition, and afterwards Colin Heaphey, Louth Post Primary Schools Committee chairman, presented the Lennon Cup to winning captain Emmet Duffy. ARDEE CS: Niall Carrie, Hunterstown; David Carroll, St Mary's; Michael Smith, Syddan; Paul Taaffe, Hunterstown; Conor McHugh, Glyde; Emmet Duffy, Sean McDermott's; Alan Matthews, Hunterstown;
Neil Reilly, John Mitchel's; Kevin Traynor, Syddan; Jake Stewart, Glyde; Terry Donegan, Mattock; Mitchell Keenan, John Mitchel's; Ryan Burns (1-6), Hunterstown; Martin Duffy (1-2), St Mary's; Ryan Rooney (2-2), St Mary's. Subs: Conor Keenan, St Mary's for McHugh; Pater Clarke (0-1), St Mary's for Stewart. Also: TJ Duffy, Cathal Bradley, Pierce Callan, Andrew Mooney, Ciaran Scriven, Evan Owens, Danny Commons, Aaron Kerley, Donal Forde, Liam Farrell, Stephen Cotter, Conor Kerr.
ST MARY'S DS: Mark Farrelly, St Colmcille's; Brian O'Connell, St Fechin's; Ryan Cooney, Duleek/Bellewstown; Fiachra Doherty, Oliver Plunkett's; Tomas O hOistin (0-3), St Colmcille's; Ben Donnelly, Oliver Plunkett's; Ciaran McArdle; Conor Early, Oliver Plunkett's; James Marry, Slane; Gideon Lugoye (0-1), Wolfe Tones; Kevin Dunne (0-1), Slane; Padraig McHugh, Oliver Plunkett's; Alan Smith Wilton, Newtown Blues; Darren Heeney (0-3), Duleek/Bellewstown; James Burke, Duleek/Bellewstown. Subs: Martin Nulty, St Patrick's for Doherty, Richie Culhane, St Colmcille's for Burke. Also: Jack O'Donnell, Kevin Lally, Darren Arnold, Alan O'Brien, Robin Clarke, Shane Crosby, Jamie Harford, Richie Sullivan, Graham Garland, Roy Moore.
REFEREE: Brian Brady (Kilkerley