GAA | The wait goes on for the Gaels as Blues cruise to Joe Ward number 21

Anchor Tours Louth Senior Football Championship Final
Newtown Blues 2–10 Dundalk Gaels 0-5

Newtown Blues captain Andy McDonnell lifts the Joe Ward Cup. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

The Joe Ward trophy will take the familiar route back to Newfoundwell after Newtown Blues deservedly came out on top of Sunday’s Louth Senior Championship final in Drogheda.

The Dundalk Gaels, making their first final appearance for 25 years, were hoping to win Louth football’s premier prize for the first time since 1952 but they never looked like toppling the Blues who tasted success yet again, this win their 21st in total.

The Ramparts side will rue Sunday’s performance. They just didn’t do themselves justice on the biggest stage, kicking just five points over the hour, with only two of them coming from open play.

Malachy O’Rourke’s men accrued eight wides in total, three of them coming in the opening stages with Sean McCann and Ger McSorley missing from the right and David Moloney doing likewise from the other flank. That set the tone for the day.

Pre-match photos from Sunday’s Louth Senior Championship final. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

It was the Blues who got things going with Robert Carr on target in the fourth minute before a Fergal Donohue foul on McSorley led to the first booking of the game five minutes later.

Gaels captain Derek Crilly swung in a dangerous free but Blues ‘keeper Jason Lowney showed good hands to gather in the damp conditions.

McSorley and Eanna McArdle extended the Gaels’ wide count to five in 15 minutes and the Blues edged further ahead when Kevin Carr profited from a lucky deflection to smack over.

A McArdle free finally got the Gaels off the mark in the 17th minute but the Blues grabbed the first goal of the game a minute later after a well-worked move.

Action from Sunday’s Louth Senior Championship final. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

Conor Moore started and finished the move, finding Donohue in a pocket of space before collecting the return pass. His effort crashed off the underside of the bar with Donohue there to apply the finishing touch but the umpires ruled that the ball had crossed the line, the Blues no 15 getting the credit for the major.

McArdle added another free to his name but just when it appeared he had found his range, he sent another one wide of the posts just after Ross Nally had converted at the opposite end of the field.

A poor first-half chugged towards the break and the Gaels had their best sighting of goal in the final minute when Crilly found himself in an advanced position but he was stopped by a fine tackle from Kevin Carr.

A Ciaran Downey point extended the Blues advantage to five inside two minutes of the restart but the only sign of the final exploding into life came from the fireworks let off by some young fans behind Stephen Faulker’s goal.

It was the Blues who looked the more likely, winning the loose balls that skidded around on the floor, and they extended the lead to eight points in the 39th minute when Nally’s dropping shot from the right arrowed into Faulkner’s net, the keeper misjudging the attempt.

The Gaels looked lifeless in attack and McSorley put their first effort of the second-half — in the 43rd minute — past the posts, before Crilly finally got them off the mark, his free having enough legs to carry over.

Barry Watters gave the Ramparts side something to cheer when he cut in to grab their first score from open play in the 48th minute but another McSorley wide checked their momentum and another Nally free edged the Blues towards the line.

Action from Sunday’s Louth Senior Championship final. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

David Moloney, from the left, cut it back to six with eight minutes to play but he dropped a free short just seconds later after Colm Judge was shown a black card for the Blues.

Sean McCann had the Blues net rippling with five minutes to play but unfortunately for the Gaels, it was the side netting, after Lowney allowed a Jamie Faulkner ball to squirm from his grasp.

Nally’s third free of the day secured it for the Blues and the Gaels’ day was summed up when McSorley slammed a half-volley wide of the target after the ball fell invitingly into his path.

Nally, who scooped the Man of the Match award, kicked a sublime free out of his hands before Ciaran Downey’s brace and another score from the Blues’ young forward sealed yet another Joe Ward for the Blues.

Oisin Murray’s reaction sums it up for the Gaels. PICTURE: BENMCSHANE

The wait goes on for the Gaels…

NEWTOWN BLUES: Jason Lowney; Cormac Reynolds, Fergal Donohue, Paul Moore; Kevin Carr (0–1), Emmet Carolan, Stephen Moonan; Andy McDonnell, John Kermode; Conor Branigan, Colm Judge, Robert Carr (0–1); Ciaran Downey (0–3), Ross Nally (1–5, 4f), Conor Moore (1–0). Subs: Hugh McGinn for C Brannigan, 41 mins; Ronan Levins For C Judge (BC), 54 mins; Cian Lynch for J Kermode, 59 mins.

DUNDALK GAELS: Stephen Faulkner; David McComish, Jamie Faulkner, Peter McGinnity; Oisin Murray, Derek Crilly (0–1, 1f), Eamonn Kenny; James Stewart, Sean McCann; David Moloney (0–1), Sean Murray, Barry Watters (0–1); Eanna McArdle (0–2, 2f), Gerard McSorley, Christopher Sweeney. Subs: Jason Clarke for E McArdle, 40 mins; Errol Boyle for C Sweeney, 50 mins; Gerard Fee for E Kenny, 60 mins.

REFEREE: David Fedigan (Hunterstown).

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