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Saturday 19 October 2019

Sam's the man for Mairtins

GAA: Cardinal O'Donnell Cup Final - Naomh Mairtin 2-19, St Mary’s 1-12

Dan Banon at The Grove

This Cardinal O'Donnell final will be forever known as the Sam Mulroy show as the Naomh Mairtin attacker completely lit up the second half in the Grove.

Amassing ten points in a scintillating 24 minutes of score-taking, the county star guided his side to their second Division 1 title in three years.

Each point was better than the next; left foot, right foot, arcing runs, delicate touches, booming placed kicks.

The accumulation of the points was akin to a professional snooker player in full flow.

Such was his control on proceedings, the outcome was in his hands alone.

His performance showed maturity and the level of consistency that has made the Mairtin's the great contenders in Louth football in recent seasons.

Despite a elatively quiet and subdued opening period, Mulroy like his side never panicked and once he got going, they never looked back.

The showpiece spun on Stephen Campbell's brace of goals four minutes into the second half. The first was set up by none other than Mulroy after he intercepted a Kian Moran hand pass to lay it on a plate for Campbell to coolly dispatch.

Campbell's second was another composed finish, this time with the palms of his hands as he capitalised on another mix up in communication in the Ardee square to direct John Clutterbuck's assist past Alan McGauley in the Ardee net.

Those killer blows were too much for the Mary's morale as they simply never recovered from the setbacks.

From afar, it may seem that Ardee pressed the self destruct button but Mairtin's upped their intensity levels to a place where the Mary's haven't been before and as a result were forced into those errors.

Half time came at the wrong time for Sean Barry's side, up until that point they looked likely winners of the competition for the first time in 18 years, on the back of a Ciaran Keenan goal in the third minute.

After that start they looked like a side that was used to winning under age finals and bringing that potential to fruition.

RJ Callaghan came into the side since their championship exit and allowed Karl Faulkner to play in defence while the placement of Ronan Carroll on the wing threw the Martin's to a certain extent also.

The start created enough havoc to energise the Ardee men into massive turnovers at the back and up front, the superb forward play from Keenan and Conor Gillespie inside was doubling down on that underdog belief.

However, Bryan McQuillan ended the hysterics with a point at the end of the half, underlying the Monasterboices sides calm and consistent nature and what was to come after the break with a well worked score.

Straight off the training ground a Craig Lynch kick out resulted in McQuillian landing a score to make it 1-7 to 0-6.

A manageable four point deficit for a team not playing to their usual high standards.

Right from the throw in to the second half there was no doubting who would claim victory.

An aggressive Naomh Mairtin press all over the field was something Ardee couldn't live with and Campbells goals game in a matter of minutes.

The Championship quarter as it is called was defined by a bullish Mulroy who singlehandedly landed the next nine of his side's tally after a wonderful JP Rooney effort.

Darren Clarke and Jonathon Commins tried to stem the tide for Ardee, but the swell was too much for them.

In contrast Jim Farrell had the luxury of emptying his bench to lavish applause.

The replacements with a point to prove, Conor Whelan and Val Leddy in particular, showed no mercy as they ran out worthy ten point winners.

The triumph of consistency injects a huge momentum boost for the Monasterboice men ahead of the potentital madness of a Championship semi final versus Geraldines in a fortnight's time.

Naomh Máirtín: Craig Lynch; Paul Berrill, Mick Fanning, Eoin Wright; Thom Sullivan, Conor Morgan, John Clutterbuck; Wayne Campbell 0-1 (1f), Gavan Mooney; Stephen Campbell 2-1, Eoghan Callaghan, Conor Healy; Bryan McQuillan 0-1, JP Rooney 0-2, Sam Mulroy 0-12 (7f, 145'). Subs: Mark Whelan for Wright (ht), Conor Whelan 0-1 for B McQuillan (43), Val Leddy 0-1 for W Campbell (52), Fra McCullough for Rooney (54), Shane Campbell for Berrill (55), Graeme McQuillan for Sullivan (55).

Ardee St. Mary's: Alan McGauley; Conor Keenan, Donal McKenny, Karl Faulkner; Tom Jackson, Niall Eccles 0-1, Éimhín Keenan; Robert Leavy, RJ Callaghan; Kian Moran, Liam Jackson, Ronan Carroll 0-2 (1f); Ciarán Keenan 1-0, Darren Clarke 0-6, (4f), Conor Gillespie 0-2. Subs: Paudy Clarke for Callaghan (37), Mark Fay for E Keenan (40), Jonathan Commins 0-1 for Gillespie (45), Jamie Rooney for Moran (53), Lorcan Malone for Carroll (54).

Referee: Paul Kneel (Kilkerley Emmets)

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