JUST days after they were thrown out of the Limerick U-21 football championship, Rathkeale’s St Marys Sean Finns ended a dramatic week by being crowned champions.
ON Tuesday night, the club received notification that they were out of the championship after Limerick GAA’s CCCC ruled that they fielded an illegal player.
The club appealed the decision and late on Friday night, the Hearings Committee overturned the decision on a technicality.
Just over 15-hours later in Mick Neville Park, St Marys Sean Finns were crowned winners against Dromcollogher-Broadford, 1-12 to 0-10.
It brought an end to a dramatic championship, that had seen the semi-finals played on St Stephen’s Day and then the initial final played on New Year’s Eve.
The Rathkeale club let a six-point lead slip in the drawn final but this time round they finished strongly to win a first ever premier U-21 football title.
They went one step further than last year when they lost this final to Newcastle West.
The five point win came despite three enforced changes from the drawn final - due to injury and the absence of U-16 players.
In the drawn final they raced into a seven point lead from the off but this time round it was a lot tighter.
At the end of the opening 20-minutes it was 0-3 each.
Drom-Broadford were relying heavily on Kevin Noonan, with Colin Barry frees the main early scorer for the Rathkeale men, who were assisted by some players from Cappagh-Kilcornan.
Drom-Broadford hit the front with a third from Noonan but then St Marys Sean Finns finished the half on top.
The all-important goal came in the 24th minute from inspirational captain Darren Jones.
Just like the drawn final, he surged forward from centre back to blast to the net.
Paul Madigan ended the half with a Drom-Broadford point to leave it 1-4 to 0-5 at half time.
The Rathkeale side started the second half on top with Sean Sheahan and Steven Power points.
Free-taker Daniel Collins hit back for Drom-Broadford but then Marty Roche kicked two superb points and Barry added another brace of frees.
That left the eventual winners 1-10 to 0-7 clear with 12-minutes to play.
Frees from Kevin Noonan and Collins brought it much closer with five minutes to play, 1-10 to 0-10.
But it could have been a lot closer but for a 50th minute penalty from Daniel Collins that came back off the upright.
With Drom-Broadford looking for vital scores, St Marys Sean Finns broke forward for Steven Power and Paul White to seal a famous win to add to their intermediate championship success.
The game also saw the first black cards issued in Limerick. Bryan Meade was first to see the line under the new rules when shown the line early in the second half for St Marys Sean Finns.
SCORERS: St Marys Sean Finns: Colin Barry 0-5 (3frees), Marty Roche 0-3, Darren Jones 1-0, Steven Power, 0-2, Sean Sheahan and Paul White 0-1 each. Dromcollogher-Broadford: Kevin Noonan (1free), Daniel Collins (4frees) 0-4 each, Niall O’Brien and Paul Madigan 0-1 each.
ST MARYS SEAN FINNS: Danny Coleman; Adrian Stackpoole, Frank Geary, Ciaran English; Paul White, Darren Jones, Patrick Wilmott; Sean Sheahan, Colin Barry; Marty Roche, Eoin O’Donnell, Cormac O’Shea; Bryan Meade, Steven Power, Jimmy Dillane. Sub: Conor Lyons for Bryan Meade, blackcard (34mins).
DROMCOLLOGHER-BROADFORD: Gearoid Greaney; Paddy Lordan, Darren Boyce, John Barrett; Keith Lacey, Seamus Brosnan, Patrick Stack; Brian Noonan, Cillian Fahy; Niall O’Brien, Paul Madigan, Micheal Brosnan; Damien Lacey, Kevin Noonan, Daniel Collins. Subs: Liam O’Shaughnessy for Micheal Brosnan, blackcard (42mins), Sean O’Sullivan for Keith Lacey (48mins), Declan Stack for Niall O’Brien (55mins).
REFEREE: Richard Moloney (Bruff).