SHANE THOMPSON was the hero as St Mel’s edged out St Aidan’s by the slimmest of margins in Killoe.
Six points ahead at the interval, the Longford lads let their Dublin counterparts to dictate large portions of the second half.
Ten minutes had elapsed before St Mel’s Darragh Doherty broke the deadlock.
The visitors then failed to make the most of a number of decent opportunities before St Mel’s full-forward Thompson put his stamp on the match.
Thompson misfired in the early stages, but once he found his range he terrorised the St Aidan’s full-back line and racked up 1-3 before he was forced off with a hamstring injury.
Seven points to the good at the restart, the home side looked to the out of sight. But St Aidan’s had other ideas.
Conor Kavanagh, Cian Gerrard, Gavin King and John Carroll landed seven unanswered points to level with four minutes remaining.
But St Mel’s were given a lifeline when they were awarded a close-range free and Robbie O’Connell held his nerve to score the winner.
scorers – St Mel’s: S Thompson 1-3, Darragh Doherty 0-3 (2fs), R Connell 0-1f. St Aidan’s: C Kavanagh 0-4 (3fs), G King 0-2 (1f), C Gerrard, J Connell and C Doran 0-1 each.
ST MEL’S – D Doherty; J Moran, L Barry, P Duggan; R Moffett, C Lee, P Lynn; J Heaney, S Noonan; R O’Connell, Darragh Doherty, D Kirby; C Finnan, S Thompson, B Harte. Subs: R Clarke for D Kirby, P Hanley for S Thompson , N Steele for P Hanley
ST aIDAN’S – S Power; R Kerins, S Brennan, T Sullivan; D Gray, C Doran, E Craig; A Elliott, G King; J Doran, C Kavanagh, C Gerrard; P Small, J Rafter, J Connell. Subs: D Ryan for J Doran, E O’Donnell for J Rafter, A Conway for C Gerrard.
REF – C Dwyer (Offaly)