HURLING | Geoghegan leads the way as Moninne end seven-year wait for title

Anchor Tours Louth Senior Hurling Championship
Naomh Moninne 0–16 St Fechin’s 0–14

Naomh Moninne players celebrate with captain Andrew McArdle and the Paddy Kelly Cup. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

There were scenes of mass celebration in Castlebellingham on Sunday afternoon as Naomh Moninne ended a seven-year wait to be crowned Louth Senior Hurling Championship winners.

Pitted against a St Fechin’s side looking to win their third title on the trot, Brian Brady’s men held their nerve in a close encounter which was settled in the main by man of the match Ronan Geoghegan, who converted all eight of his frees

A tit for tat first half, that saw the teams level on three occasions, struggled to really open up but it was Moninne who settled the quicker of the sides with John Martin and David Yore popping over scores before John Crosbie got the holders off the mark in the eighth minute.

The Naomh Moninne players on the pre-match parade. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

Andrew Mackin hit a quick reply for the Dundalk side before the Fechin’s showed signs that they were warming to the task with two scores in quick succession; Paddy Lynch firing over from the line before Michael Ryan turned Moninne skipper Andrew McArdle on his left in the 13th minute to level the scores.

A couple of dead balls by Ronan Geoghegan put Brady’s men back in front but Niall Devlin’s solo run and finish on the right, followed by Paddy Lynch’s 19th minute free, just minutes after he saw one come back off the upright, left it all square at five points apiece.

Moninne lost full-back Chris Lennon to injury in the 23rd minute but his replacement, Niall Cafferkey, made an instant impression, driving over the top after collecting a quick pass from Martin in the middle of the park.

A young Naomh Moninne fan raises the black and amber flag. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

Another brace of Geoghegan swung the pendulum in Moninne’s favour again but the Fechin’s tied it up once more thanks to another couple of efforts from midfielder Lynch.

It was Moninne, however, who took a lead into the interval, Geoghegan’s fifth free, coming in first half stoppage time, giving them a slight edge going into the dressing rooms.

The Moninne no 10 repeated the dose just seconds after the restart but Lynch followed suit just seconds later before pulling a free wide from the right-hand side. Those misses proved crucial at the end.

Naomh Moninne’s Ronan Geoghegan converts with a first-half free. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

Seaghan Conneely’s neat effort made it all square again but there were signs that the final was beginning to flow with Diarmuid Murphy, captain of Moninne’s last win in 2010, edging his team in front after 40 minutes.

Geoghegan’s 100% record continued with a stunning effort from the left but the holders held on doggedly with Michael Ryan hitting the target with a sublime effort from the left, 0–12 to 0–11 with 42 minutes on the clock.

John Martin drew a big round of applause with the score of the game in the 46th minute, a magnificent bit of skill to control Geoghegan’s pass and tee it up for a finish all in the one movement.

Naomh Moninne’s David Yore breaks through a sea of St Fechin’s players. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

And Moninne put some daylight between the sides when Geoghegan hit his eighth of the afternoon with a 65 to leave the Fechin’s staring down the barrel of defeat with 10 minutes to go. Lynch, however, cut it to the minimum and with five minutes remaining it was anyone’s game.

Moninne tried to hold on ruggedly to their advantage but Lynch’s fourth successive point levelled it for a fifth time. There was still time for drama, though, and Murphy put Moninne back in front with just two minutes to go.

Michael Ryan saw a difficult chance go wide of the upright and Feidhlim Joyce put the seal on it in stoppage time, raising the white flag, and the black and amber in the stand on the far side.

Ronan Geoghegan receives his Man of the Match award from Des Halpenny, Louth County Board Chairman. PICTURE: BEN MCSHANE

A late Paddy Lynch free, driven low towards goal, bounced and bobbled around dangerously in front of the Moninne posts but they survived the late scare and deservedly held on to end their seven-year famine.

NAOMH MONINNE: Paul Delaney; Paul Challoner, Chris Lennon, Andrew McArdle; Matthew Fee, Oisin Drumm; Diarmuid Murphy (0–2); Darren O’Hanrahan, Feidhlim Joyce (0–1); Ronan Geoghegan (0–8, 8f), John Martin (0–2), Philip Englishby; David Yore (0–1), Andrew Mackin (0–1), Tadhg Moore. Subs: Niall Cafferkey (0–1 for C Lennon, 23 mins; Collins Connolly for T Moore, 55 mins; Johnny Carter for J Martin, 57 mins; Stephen Rafferty for A McArdle, 58 mins; Donal Connolly for D Yore, 60 mins.

ST FECHIN’S: Stephen Hackett; Barry Devlin, Darren McDonnell, Wayne Tracey; Robert Moynagh, Cathal Ryan, Oisin Byrne; Paddy Lynch (0–8, 7f), Ian Connor; Donal Ryan, Niall Devlin (0–2), Seaghan Conneely (0–1); David Stephenson, John Crosbie (0–1), Michael Ryan (0–2). Subs: Cormac McAuley for W Tracey, 41 mins; Paul Matthews for J Crosbie, 41 mins; Paddy McCormack for D Stephenson, 47 mins; Liam Ryan for R Moynagh, 60 mins.

REFEREE: Jason McAndrew (Ballybay).

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