SEAN O'MAHONYS 1-11
ST MARYS 1-9
Sean O'Mahonys created history when they fought back to claim a first ever Senior Championship title with a two-point victory over St Marys at Drogheda on sunny Sunday afternoon.
The Dundalk men were facing a second successive final defeat when they trailed by four points with 12 minutes remaining. However, in typical O'Mahonys fashion they refused to five up and struck 1-3 in the closing stages to claim a dramatic win.
Not for the first time the crucial goal came from big full forward, Conor Crawley who forced the ball to the net two minutes from the end of normal time.
It completes a remarkable rise to the top for the O'Mahonys who just two years ago won the Intermediate Championship title, and followed up with victory in the Leinster Final.
It was a cruel outcome for a St Marys side who looked on course to end the club's 21-year-wait for the Joe Ward when Mark Fay fired home the opening goal, but perhaps they paid for their lack of experience of the big occasion as they faded in the vital closing stages.
Fay's goal came at the end of the third quarter and his excellent finish at the end of a good move saw his side take a 1-7 to 0-8 lead. Darren Clarke and Ronan Carroll followed up with points to increase the gap to four.
Another score might have ended the O'Mahonys challenge but the Dundalk men gave themselves hope with points from Man of the Match, Conor Finnegan, Liam Dullaghan and Ronan Byrne to cut the gap to just one point.
Entering the 29th minute, Finnegan sent in a free from distance that caused panic in the goalmouth and Crawley got the vital touch to put his side back in front. Despite four minutes of injury time, the Marys were unable to rescue the game and the O'Mahonys held out for a famous win.
In the end, the O'Mahonys big game experience and know-how got them across the line. Inexperience appeared to be a factor in the opening half as despite playing with the advantage of the wind, the Mid Louth men failed to get a grip on the scoreboard. Ultimately they were made pay a heavy price for a series of wasted opportunities as they finished the opening period with a total of seven wides.
The Ardee men did make a bright start with Ronan Carroll and Mark Fay fisting over, but the O'Mahonys got into their stride and scores from Conor Finnegan (free), Stephen Kilcoyne and Liam Dullaghan between the 9th and 11th minutes had their side in front.
The lively Dean Matthews had the teams level but the O'Mahonys were playing with a greater intensity and when Finnegan pointed two frees to put his team 0-5 to 0-3 in front, the signs were ominous for the Marys.
However, the Ardee side began to settle into the game and after pulling a point back, Dean Matthews then cut in along the endline and squared a pass to Mark Fay who was poised to fist the ball home but somehow Kevin Brennan got across to flick the ball out of his grasp.
From the resultant '45' Carroll levelled the game before Paudy Clarke had his team in front soon after, but an injury-time point from Kurt Murphy had the game tied a six points each going into the break.
The lively game continued to provide good entertainment for the large crowd as the teams battled to take the initiative. Darren Clarke had the Marys back in front only for Finnegan to land two more from frees to see his side lead by 0-8 to 0-7.
Fay then produced the first goal of the game and for much of the remainder of the game it looked as if that would be the decisive score, but the O'Mahonys fought back to win by two and spark joyous scenes at the final whistle.
SEAN O'MAHONYS: Kevin Brennan; Kurt Murphy 0-1, Ronan Byrne 0-1, Mickey Clarke; Liam Dullaghan 0-2, John O'Brien, Barry O'Brien; Conor Martin, Shane Brennan; Conor Finnegan 0-6 (5f), Ben McLaughlin, Stephen Fisher; Stephen Kilcoyne 0-1, Conor Crawley 1-0, Johnny Connolly. Subs: Niall McLaughlin for J Connolly, David Dowling for B O'Brien, Barry Mackin for S Kikcoyne.
ST MARYS: Peter Duffy; Conor Keenan, John Bingham, Karl Faulkner; Eimhin Keenan, Niall Eccles, Brendan Matthews; Ronan Carroll 0-3, Robbie Leavy; Daire McConnon, Paudy Clarke 0-1, Mark Fay 1-1; Dean Matthews 0-2, Darren Clarke 0-2 (1f), Barry Faulkner. Subs: Niall Carroll for B Matthews, Shane McCoy for D McConnon, RJ Callaghan for R Leavy.
REFEREE: Stephen Johnston