The first domestic silverware of the new decade was winging its way towards Ballyoughter rather than Bishopswater on Saturday night after St. Patrick's scored a decisive and deserved ten-point victory over St. Joseph's in the 2019 Greenstar Under-20 football Roinn 1B championship final in St. Patrick's Park, Enniscorthy.
And both sides played their part in creating a quite extraordinary piece of G.A.A. history in the process, as this last game in the competition was also the first!
Roinn 1B, the fourth grade, is confined to teams beaten in the first round of the District Roinn 1 championships, and St. Patrick's and St. Joseph's were two of six eligible to compete, after losing to Kilrush and Kilross Gaels respectively.
However, neither of the two quarter-finals went ahead, since the Ballyoughter boys and Rathgarogue-Cushinstown received walkovers from St. Mary's (Maudlintown) and Réalt na Mara respectively.
Remarkably, it was a similar story for the scheduled semi-finals, with Monageer-Boolavogue conceding their game to St. Joseph's, while Rathgarogue-Cushinstown didn't field versus the Pat's.
In fairness to both Réalt na Mara and the New Ross District side, their games were fixed for the day directly after the clubs played in Leinster Junior finals, when Aaron Hall and Killian Doyle from the former, and Eoin Porter from the latter, would have been expected to play twice in 24 hours.
The last two standing were also due to clash in the final before Christmas, but it was held over until last Saturday when St. Patrick's pushed on after scoring two first-half goals.
They were powered to victory by classy captain Ciarán Murphy who finished with 1-6 to his name, while midfielder Glen Carton was another stand-out performer for the Gorey District contenders.
Murphy opened their account from a free inside 90 seconds, but St. Joseph's had a chance to hit the net in the fourth minute after a Ciarán Paige drive deflected off a defender's hands into the path of full-forward Kyle Turner.
Pat's netminder Dan Chisholm did very well to save his low shot, although Cian Carty did produce a consolation score for the Wexford town side when he flighted over the '45 that followed.
A Conor Morris run created the space for Ciarán Murphy to restore the Pat's lead, but it didn't last long as Kyle Turner fed Kallum Broaders for the equaliser.
St. Joseph's led for the one and only time in the tenth minute when Carty converted a free earned by Eoin Kinsella, but their rivals pounced quickly for a well-worked goal to move ahead by 1-2 to 0-3.
Midfielder Marcus Sheridan was the provider on the right flank, picking out overlapping wing-back Brian Murphy who directed an accurate shot into the far corner of Josh Guerrine's net.
Fergal Maguire wasn't too far away from adding a second when he fisted a Glen Carton delivery to the right and wide, and St. Joseph's settled somewhat after that rocky spell.
Indeed, free-taker Carty made it a one-point game, with Kallum Broaders claiming a mark from the kick-out and passing to Dale Convey who struck the leveller (0-5 to 1-2).
That score arrived in the 23rd minute, and it's significant to note that St. Joseph's only added another two points before the finish.
In contrast, St. Patrick's tacked on an impressive 1-9, and they took the first important steps towards securing the title by adding 1-2 on the trot before half-time.
They hit the front again in the 25th minute, with Ciarán Murphy playing a one-two with Marcus Sheridan before rattling the net (2-2 to 0-5).
Sheridan broke the kick-out that followed into the path of Murphy who added a point, and the all-action centre-forward also displayed accuracy from a free to leave the north county side with a double-scores interval lead.
St. Patrick's only needed 18 seconds on the re-start for Glen Carton to extend their lead from a Darragh Byrne pass, and clear daylight was established after Micheál Rowsome and Ciarán Murphy (free) widened the gap to eight by the 34th minute.
The leaders did lose corner-back Michael Doyle to a black card, and Cian Carty pointed from the free that he conceded, but all five of the eventual winners' substitutes made an impact, with two of them picking off points.
In truth, St. Patrick's never looked like relinquishing their grip, with Fergal Maguire joining the list of marksmen in the 41st minute before a strike on goal from new arrival Cormac Kavanagh was deflected for a '45.
Corner-forward Eoin Kinsella went into goal as St. Joseph's made a triple substitution, and they responded to a Kavanagh point when a Kallum Broaders drive whizzed narrowly over the crossbar in the 50th minute.
However, the black and whites didn't register again, with St. Patrick's underlining their superiority when the excellent Ciarán Murphy brought his personal haul to 1-3 from play, before Daniel Rooney closed the scoring shortly after entering the fray.
Regardless of the bizarre circumstances, this victory was warmly welcomed by the winners, especially after their Junior 'B' side had a complete off-day in their county final in October against neighbours Buffers Alley when they were hammered by 6-10 to 0-4.
However, after four walkovers given and just one game played to decide a competition, it's clear that some soul-searching is required to determine the best path forward for the Under-20 grade.
St. Patrick's: Dan Chisholm; Michael Doyle, Adam Goff, Brendan Byrne; Brian Murphy (1-0), Ollie Gahan, Darragh Byrne; Glen Carton (0-1), Marcus Sheridan; Conor Morris, Ciarán Murphy (capt., 1-6, 0-3 frees), Alan Murphy; Micheál Rowsome (0-1), Jack Quinn, Fergal Maguire (0-1). Subs. - Adam Kavanagh for Doyle, black card (37), Oisín Woolmington for Quinn (38), Cormac Kavanagh (0-1) for A. Murphy (41), Daniel Rooney (0-1) for Maguire (54), Eoin Curran for Morris (57), also Páuric Doyle, Andrew O'Brien.
St. Joseph's: Josh Guerrine; Mark Shortall, Gloudie Makiese, Darragh Whelan; Chris Curran, Gary Roche, Josh Kavanagh; Ciarán Paige (capt.), Cian Carty (0-4, 3 frees, 1 '45); Warren O'Connor, Tommy Sheridan, Kallum Broaders (0-2); Eoin Kinsella (The Faythe), Kyle Turner, Dale Convey (0-1). Subs. - Jason Warren for Convey (47), Eoin Kinsella (Bishop's Park) for Guerrine (47), Ryan Warren for O'Connor (47).
Referee: John O'Loughlin (Monageer-Boolavogue).