Keenan's lucky strike turns tide for St Patrick's
ST PATRICK'S grabbed their second chance with both hands in St Brigid's Park yesterday to claim their fourth county title in nine seasons.
Paddy Keenan dealt his troops a precious get-out-of-jail-free card two weeks ago in a dramatic first instalment and it was the Louth midfielder's 26th-minute goal that proved crucial in a tense and tetchy replay.
County colleague and Man of the Match Ray Finnegan admitted afterwards that he was 'going for a point' when he lofted a speculative delivery in towards the square. But when the ball dropped short, Keenan beat his marker Andy McDonnell and Blues goalkeeper Stephen McCann to bundle the ball over the line.
It was a key moment as it came somewhat against the run of play, but Blues' failure to score for the last 25 minutes was to prove just as crucial.
Eugene Judge's side made the better start again and a couple of close-range John Kermode frees settled the nerves nicely.
Pat's hit back with a free from Eamon Carroll and a well-worked Daniel O'Connor point, but their underdog opponents continued to set the tempo and twice led by two points as the first half progressed.
Conor Branagan and Hugh McGinn opened their respective accounts to make it 0-4 to 0-2, but Eoin and Daniel O'Connor struck back-to-back scores to level matters.
History repeated itself moments later as Keenan and Eamon Carroll cancelled out points from Jimmy Murray and Colm Judge, but crucially on this occasion Pat's followed up with that fortuitous goal to assume the lead for the first time, 1-6 to 0-6.
And the favourites turned the screw with another Eoin O'Connor point, followed quickly by another free from Carroll to leave St Pat's 1-8 to 0-7 up at half-time.
The early indications after the break were that Blues would make a real game of it as points from Cormac Reynolds and McGinn (free) slashed the deficit to just two points.
But McGinn's effort proved to be their last score. Pat's eventually opened their second-half account when Colin Goss picked out Keenan with a quick free.
Three more points in the final 10 minutes saw Eoin O'Connor help himself to brace before Karl White had the final say in injury-time.
Attention now will turn to a revenge mission on Sunday week against Portlaoise, who dished out a heavy drubbing to Pat's after they lifted their last Joe Ward title back in 2007.
SCORERS -- St Patrick's: P Keenan 1-2, E O'Connor 0-4, E Carroll 0-3 (2f), D O'Connor 0-2, K White 0-1. Newtown Blues: C Judge 0-2f, J Kermode 0-2f, H McGinn 0-2 (1f), C Branagan, J Murray, C Reynolds 0-1 each.
ST PATRICK'S -- S Connor; J O'Hare, D Finnegan, D O'Hanlon; R Finnegan, E Breen, O Zamboglou; C Goss, P Keenan; P Mallon, S Hynes, A McCann; E Carroll, E O'Connor, D O'Connor. Subs: K White for A McCann (35), C Grogan for S Hynes (59).
NEWTOWN BLUES -- S McCann; T Costello, C Reynolds, A O'Brien; S Moonan, J Carr, E Judge; B Kermode, K Lynch; J Kermode, H McGinn, C Branagan; J Murray, C Judge, A McDonnell. Subs: I McManus for J Kermode (29), P Moore for T Costello (h-t), B Sharkey for P Moore (48), R Carr for H McGinn (54).
REF -- P Kneel.