AGAINST the setting sun, Wolverhampton captain Jon Hawley held aloft the Joe Roarke Cup to conclude a satisfying evening for St. Marys.
2-2 from Alan Brooks and 0-9 from Ethan Mannion (6 frees) steered St. Marys past an understrength St. Barnabas in the final of the 2020 Intermediate Football Championship, deferred due to the Covid pandemic.
Played in perfect evening conditions at Pairc na hÉireann it was Wolverhampton who raced into an early lead with Mannion looping over the first score of the game.
Moments later a mix up in the Nottingham defence presented Brooks with a chance to grab the opening goal but his shot bounced back off a post, although Mannion slotted over his second score from a free soon after.
Mannion was getting plenty of shooting practice in the opening half hour, sending over three more points (two frees) before Nottingham hit back at the other end with a fine long distance strike by Louis Ryall.
Nonetheless, Marys kept the pressure up on their opponents with Finn Mullen shaving the crossbar with a close range lob before Mannion rolled a ten-metre shot narrowly wide of the far post.
There was still time before the interval for three further Wolverhampton scores thanks to Brooks and Mannion (two frees), cementing their side’s advantage by the half-time whistle.
Nottingham needed a swift reply at the start of the second-half and they immediately got one thanks to a close range finish to the back of Josh Amos’ net by Matt Ball.
The game looked to have completely turned on its head when Declan Kinsella followed up with two converted frees to reduce the gap to just two points but Wolverhampton hit back emphatically as Brooks swivelled in the goal mouth to fire home his side’s opening goal of the evening.
Kelvin Magee looped over a score from open play shortly after before a second goal arrived instigated by some clever play by Mullen who stole the ball to place it into the net from an acute angle. Mannion and Kinsella traded frees before Mullen landed the score of the game after a mazy solo cutting in from the left ended with a point.
The championship was confirmed with their third goal, once again Brooks popping up in front of the Barnabas goalmouth to make no mistake with a simple finish to the back of the net. To their credit Barnabas rallied in the final few minutes with a point from Michael Cattermole preceding their second goal, a close range free lashed into the net by Kinsella.
Mannion’s ninth point ended the scoring for the evening, leaving St. Marys to celebrate silverware ahead of the start of the league campaign.
The Senior Football League got underway on the evening of Friday, May 14, with holders Sean McDermotts hitting five goals past Naomh Padraig in Leicester on a final score of 5-22 to 2-07.
Meanwhile in Ladies’ Football there was a little piece of history for St Finbarrs who played their first league fixture in Warwickshire on Sunday recording a 2-06 to 1-05 victory over Sean McDermotts thanks to two quick-fire goals by Eva Cassidy.
Earlier in the week, Roger Casements and St. Barnabas opened their league campaigns with victories over McDermotts and Naomh Padraig respectively.
St. Marys: J Amos; J McGlynn, S Casey, E Corby; C Walpole, M Cronin, D Mason; D Snell, T Moore; J Hawley, A Brooks (2-2), K Magee (0-1); B McDaid, E Mannion (0-9, 6f), F Mullen (1-2)
St. Barnabas: D Grandfield; L O’Hara, Ronan Dirrane, P McCaughey; M Ball (1-0), L Greaney, Rossa Dirrane; N McGovern, D Rabbitte; L Ryall (0-1), S Dirrane, L Hennessy; E O’Sullivan, D Kinsella (1-3), M Cattermole (0-1).
Referee: JP Walsh