Burns on fire as finalists forced to play it again
SHARPSHOOTER Ryan Burns warmed up for next weekend's Leinster Junior Club decider with another imperious performance - topped off by the equalising score - as Friday evening's thrilling Lennon Cup Final ended in stalemate.
The opposition's own scoring hero Dean Maguire had almost single-handedly dragged Marist back into the contest with two second-half goals and he also kicked the last two scores of normal time to draw the sides level.
When Maguire struck again from play two minutes into extra time the Dundalk school had the lead for the first time in the entire game and at that stage they looked to have sufficient momentum to go on and complete the job.
But 15 nervy minutes followed without a score at either end, leaving the way open for an Ardee Community School equaliser, and with only three minutes remaining Hunterstown Rovers clubman Burns obliged to force a replay.
A number of county underage players were on view in Darver, and it was Burns who caught the eye first as he continued his great form with the first four points of the game - two frees sandwiched in between a brace of scores from play.
Maguire got the Marist off the mark with a pointed free in the 12th minute, but this score was immediately cancelled out by Burns, from a free, to leave Ardee with a handy 0-5 to 0-1 lead.
A further six minutes followed before Maguire struck again in similar fashion to leave a goal between the teams once more, but Martin Duffy responded with a point for the mid Louth team and they were further boosted by a Ryan Rooney goal - 1-6 to 0-2 at the break.
Marist needed something special, and quick, if they were to stand any chance of mounting a comeback, and they were given the perfect tonic when Maguire found the net inside a minute after the restart.
However, Burns kept the Ardee score ticking over nicely with two from play, and despite a further Maguire free Marist still trailed by 1-8 to 1-3 coming up to the mid-way point in the second half.
It was then that the tide began to turn decisively in Marist's favour, kick-started by Peter Thornton whose 44th-minute score was the Dundalk school's first point from play and their only score not provided by Maguire.
Their talisman livened up proceedings considerably with his next contribution - another goal - and suddenly there was only a point between the teams.
Still, Burns steadied the ship for Ardee with a point and there were still two between the sides as the clock ticked down towards the last minute of normal time. Indeed, it would have been game over had it not been for a superb save from Marist keeper Fergal Sheekey.
Marist were not to be denied, and Maguire followed up a 60th-minute free with the equalising score from play in the first minute of stoppage time. The same player struck again early in extra time to complete a remarkable personal tally of 2-6, only for Burns to have the final say.
No date has yet been announced for what will be an eagerly anticipated replay.
Ardee CS: Niall Carrie (Hunterstown); David Carroll (St. Mary's), Cathal Clarke (Mattock Rgrs), Evan Keenan (St. Mary's); James Caraher (Mattock Rgrs), Conor Keenan (St. Mary's), Mitchell Keenan (John Mitchel's); Jason Monaghan (Mattock Rgrs), Ryan Ward (Hunterstown); Daire McConnon (St. Mary's), Aaron O'Brien (Mattock Rgrs), Mikey Nultey (John Mitchel's); Ryan Burns (Hunterstown) 0-9 (0-3f), Martin Duffy (St. Mary's) 0-1, Ryan Rooney (St. Mary's) 1-0. Subs: Mark Lenehan, Alan Caraher, Tom Molloy (Mattock), Glen Matthews, James McSwiney, John Matthews (Hunterstown), Brendan Matthews, James Conlon, BJ Matthews, Luke O'Kane, Stephen Bingham (St Mary's), Dion Conlon, James Daly (Glyde), Gary Aylward, Tom Minogue, Ben O'Brien, Connell Keenan, Aaron Keeley, Barry Kirk (John Mitchel's), Kevin Traynor (Syddan).
Marist College: Fergal Sheekey (Dundalk Y Irelands); Stephen Callan (Sean O Mahony's), Jack Traynor (Geraldines), Shadam Azzez (Dundalk Y Irelands); Shane Murphy (Geraldines), Sean Murphy (Sean O Mahony's), Sean Matthews (Sean O Mahony's); Luke Bradley (Sean O Mahony's), Peter Thornton (Cooley Kickhams) 0-1; Ultan Larney (St. Mochta's), Dean Maguire (Dundalk Y Irelands) 2-6 (0-4f), Jordan O Donoghue (Dundalk Y Irelands); Stephen Sharkey (Dundalk Gaels), David Norton (Geraldines), Jack Greene (Dundalk Gaels). Subs: Aaron Culligan, Jonathon Minnock (both Dundalk Gaels), Dillon Curran (Sean O Mahony's), Gavin Breen (St. Mochta's), Laurence Kapinga, Ryan Quinn (both Roche Emmets), Brian O Hagan (Dundalk Y Irelands), David Grimes, Cormac McCartney, Glenn McCourt (all Na Piarsaigh), Aaron Byrne (St. Joseph's).
Referee: J Conlon.