Duleek-Bellewstown claimed the JFC C title with a narrow win over Blackhall Gaels at Pairc Tailteann on Saturday afternoon.
Duleek-Bellewstown ....... 1-9
Blackhall Gaels ........... 1-6
Not for the first time this year, the second quarter proved to be the defining phase of the game as Duleek-Bellewstown upped their game and retained the initiative to the finish.
However, Blackhall Gaels were revivved by Mark Ferris's 44th minute penalty goal, that left them 1-5 to 1-6 in arrears.
Duleek-Bellewstown reasserted themselves to outscore the Batterstown-Kilcloon outfit by 0-3 to 0-1 in the final quarter.
Blackhall Gaels bid for silverware wasn't helped by the dismissal of two players in a fractious final quarter. Midfielder John Fagan was first to go in the 55th minute. Andy Brady followed in fhe first of eight minutes of added time.
Luke Heeney's introduction, initially as a 14th minute blood sub, proved to be Duleek-Bellewstown's trump card as he put four points to his name. When his 28th minute goal attempt hit the crossbar Padraig McGroggan followed up for his side's goal.
Duleek-Bellewstown were ahead for the first time and took that lead to the finish. By the 42nd minute the east county side were four points ahead, 1-6 to 0-5.
Blackhall Gaels were thrown a lifeline in the 44th minute when Mark Ferris netted a penalty - for a foul on Andy Brady - to cut the gap to the minimum.
In a fractious final quarter, Blackhall Gaels never regained parity. Their numerical deficiency hindered such efforts.
Duleek-Bellewstown might have bagged a couple of goals late on with Peter Collins going closest. It was left to Luke Heeney to close the scoring on a well-earned success for the east county side.
Blackhall numbers, a throw-back to the early days of the club, were very difficult to read. Second best in sartorial stakes, Blackhall Gaels opened brighter with a brace of first-quarter points from captain Thomas Coyle and Brian O'Connor.
The scoring rate upped considerably in the second quarter. Peter Collins posted Duleek-Bellewstown's first score in the 19th minute. The sides were level for the first time when sub Luke Heeney pointed two minutes later.
The sides were tied twice more before the interval. Then, in the 28th minute Duleek-Bellewstown hit the front for the first time when Padraig McGroggan netted after Luke Heeney's effort hit the crossbar. Duleek-Bellewstown maintained that advantage to the interval when they led by 1-4 to 0-4.
Duleek-Bellewstown - Paddy Healy; Eoin O'Connell, Aaron Reilly, Chris Woods (C); Ciaran McGroggan, David Crosby, Jake Carolan; Daniel Martin, Kevin Smith; Cormac McGroggan (0-1), Peter Collins (0-2), Padraig McGroggan (1-0); Karl Reilly, Wayne Noone (0-1), Tony Andrews. Subs - Luke Heeney (0-4, 1 45)) for C McGroggan (14), Dean Brodigan for Woods (40), Paul Martin (0-1) for K Reilly (40, Cian Kelly for O'Connell (44), Warren Cudden for P McGroggan (48), Paul Callaghan for Andrews (64). Duleek-Bellewstown finished with 14 men after Cormac McGroggan went off injured in stoppage time.
Blackhall Gaels - Robbie Butler; Ciaran Nally, Martin O'Neill, Conor Callanan; Colm Whitty, Kevin O'Keane, Liam Brosnan; John Fagan, Shane McGuinness; Declan Bambrick, Mark Ferris (1-2, 1-0 pen), Shane Whitty; Brian O'Connor (0-1), Thomas Coyle (C) (0-2 fs), Andy Brady (0-1) .Subs - Charlie Staunton for O'Connor (bc 39), Niall Mangan for Ferris (64).
Referee - Seamus O'Connor (Carnaross).