Fitzpatrick the Monasterevin hero in dour final
WAYNE Fitzpatrick was the saviour for Monasterevin at the end of a turgid decider in Drogheda.
The Kildare champions came from 0-3 to 0-1 down in the final 10 minutes of the game to edge a low-scoring and error-ridden contest – but the celebrations at the final whistle showed that the scoreline was all that mattered as they claimed their first ever provincial crown.
Nerves and the poor conditions hampered both teams in the opening half.
It took a whopping 27 minutes for a dominant Monasterevin team to break the deadlock as Fitzpatrick finally got his team off the mark with a super effort from a very tight angle the quality of which was in stark contrast to how that half unfolded.
That was the only score of a first period which saw referee Fergal Kelly dish out six yellow cards (five to O'Connells) and award 32 frees.
The second period was a little more open as O'Connells eventually started to pose an attacking threat, however, chances remained at a premium.
Central to their revival was switching Mark Stanfield to full-forward from midfield, and he won two early frees that were easily dispatched by Paul McKeever.
A further point from Salem Rifaie – the home side's only effort from play – opened a two-point gap, but Monasterevin didn't panic and an inspiring run and point from Anthony Kavanagh gave them hope.
A well-worked short free by Fitzpatrick teed up Leonard Havens to equalise on 55 minutes and Fitzpatrick held his nerve over another long-range free in the final minute of normal time to clinch it for Monasterevin.
SCORERS – Monasterevin: W Fitzpatrick 0-2 (1f), L Havens, A Kavanagh 0-1 each; O'Connells: P McKeever 0-2f, S Rifaie 0-1.
MONASTEREVIN – C McCabe; T Kennedy, J Dempsey, D Maher; P Kelly, M Cornish, J Gorry; P Havens, E Stapleton; S O'Loughlin, A Kavanagh, C Brady; M Kelly, W Fitzpatrick, G Kelly. Subs: C Brady for G Kelly (52), G Holligan for M Kelly (58).
O 'CONNELLS – S Reynolds; A Shields, C Byrne, J Carroll; S Rifaie, J Agnew, K Shields; D Stanfield, S Cairns; A Sharkey, P McKeever, J Flanagan; R Quigley, M Stanfield, C Doyle. Subs: D Doyle for K Shields (h-t), S Hoey for D Stanfield (h-t).
REF – F Kelly (Longford).