Naomh Mairtin 2-16
Rathvilly 1-5

The competition might be different, but the result and the manner of Naomh Mairtin’s performance were the same – a ruthlessly effective 14-point victory on their first foray into Leinster.

The level increase will come, Rathvilly just did not bring it, or was not allowed to, such was the eagerness of the Fergal Reel team that day. Eager to be the word because there is a real feeling around the Monasterboice camp that they want to do well provincially and have firmly set their goals on this.

If that is to be the case, they have made a perfect start.

A big win at home with the luxury of clearing the bench and resting some key players before another battle in a fortnight against champions Wexford Shemaliers.

The performance just screamed confidence, a team that fully believes in what they do.

Jack Murphy and JP Rooney were the only changes from the senior final victory over the Mochta. Val Leddy and Bryan McQuillan came in, while on the other side, Rathvilly had to start without goalie Robbie Molloy, fullback Paul Curran and winger Colin Byrne.

Coming from winning the shock title from Carlow the previous Sunday, Rathvilly needed everything to follow his path and with those omissions they opposed it from the start.

Despite playing against the wind, Sam Mulroy opened the scoring and the first quarter was largely competitive. Alan Kelly curled up on a sideline in that strong wind and Kevin Murphy again equalized with Naomh Mairtin’s first point since Rob Carr scored in the senior semifinals.

This solid defense would be visible in Conor Morgan’s scoring of Carlow’s Championship top scorer Brian Murphy, Morgan held him to one point from a free kick and scored one himself to bring the score to 0- 4 to 0-2 at the first half.

Champions Louth then opened up a ten-point lead in a devastating blitz at the end of the first half. Val Leddy pointed after a patient movement and from that out, substitute goalie Tom Pilkington was short and Sam Mulroy got into it in a flash.

Mulroy intercepted and quickly tracked down Conor Whelan, who still had a lot to do and could have taken the easy way out, but he went for the jugular and punished the champions Carlow.

The goal rocked Rathvilly and shattered their resolve and while they were still in shock Mulroy could have added another goal but he struck over the bar.

Then John Clutterbuck burned his marker on the outside and the impressive Leddy – who will no doubt start the next day – chose an excellent angled run to cut through the Barrowsiders’ defense and effectively seal the game. Whelan curled up on a beauty to end the breathtaking streak.

Murphy would again muster an answer with an excellent point, but with the scores 2-7-0-4 at half-time, the second half was only going to be a tick-off exercise.

And that was exactly what it was. With the exception of a free Jake Elliott on the restart, Naomh Mairtin was in complete control of the game. Mulroy kicked off five goals in the second half and Wayne Campbell continued his momentum with another magnificent brace from long range.

With the intensity sucked in from the occasion, Rathvilly found the back of the net himself when Conor O’Neill hit home a 14-yard rebound without Brian Smith.

However, JP Rooney would have the final say on a historic day for Naomh Mairtin’s club with a free which he artfully won himself.

You have a feeling that this could be the start of something special.

Naomh Mairtin: Craig Lynch; Mark Whelan, Thom Sullivan, Conor Morgan (0-01); John Clutterbuck, Seán Healy, Conor Healy; Wayne Campbell 0-2, Evan Whelan, Val Leddy 1-1, Eoghan Callaghan, Stephen Campbell; Sam Mulroy 0-8 (5f), Conor Whelan 1-3, Bryan McQuillan. Subs: JP Rooney 0-1 (f) for McQuillan (47) Paul Berrill for Callaghan (54) Joe McGrane for S Campbell (57), Connor Smyth for M Whelan (57).

Rathvilly: Tom Pilkington; Jeffrey O’Donoghue, Barry John Molloy, Dara Curran; Pauric Deering, Conor Doyle, Josh Moore; Brendan Murphy, Ed Finnegan; Kevin Murphy 0-2, Alan Kelly 0-1 (s / l), Eric Molloy; Brian Murphy 0-1 (f), Brian Smith, Jake Elliott 0-1 (f). Subs: Padhraig Bolger for Kelly (42), Conor O’Neill 1-0 for Elliott (44) Diarmuid Gavin for O’Donoghue (47) Luke Coleman for Brian Murphy (47), Padraic Byrne for Deering (47)

Arbitrator: Fergal Smyth (Offaly)