After the disappointment of getting relegated to the 2013 Junior Championship, Young Grattans made a swift return to the Intermediate ranks with a comprehensive win over neighouring rivals Longford Slashers in the county final at Pearse Park on Sunday last.
From the 2nd minute when Grattans registered their first score on the board it developed into a real struggle for Slashers. The Stonepark side, coached by Mostrim clubman Jack Lynn, were superb throughout with their pacy forwards giving the Slashers backs a torrid time.
In the Grattans defence man-of-the-match Timmy Hegarty was fantastic and he capped off a great display with a well-taken goal in the 24th minute and the game was over as a contest at the break with Grattans leading by 13 points, 2-10 to 0-3.
While there weren’t too many scores in the second half for the title winners (their first championship success in the Junior grade since 2004), it did not matter. Minus a couple of key players, the suspended Leon Doherty and the unavailable Diarmuid McRory (away on holidays), Slashers never gave up trying but their decision making and giving away fouls in dangerous positions proved costly on a number of occasions.
With barely 25 seconds gone on the clock Tom Madden opened the scoring for Slashers but Grattans replied with a very good point from Willie John McDermott. And they created a goal chance soon after but Slashers keeper Paddy McKeon produced a good save to deny Kevin Jones.
In the 6th minute Jones was on target with a point. Two frees from Gerard Victory and two nice points from Emmet Clarke put Grattans ahead by five by the 13th minute. Slashers only reply was a free from Ciaran Farrell.
Grattans were ruthless in attack and an excellent point from captain John Balfe and a Kevin Jones goal put them well in control with seven minutes of the first half remaining.
Jones followed up with another point before wing-back Hegarty got up the field and after receiving the ball from McDermott found the back of the net with a neat finish. Shane Cassidy then added another point. Just before the break pointed frees were traded between Ciaran Farrell and Gerard Victory.
Like the first half, it was Tom Madden who registered the first score of the second half inside the opening minute. Andrew Lyons got another point for Slashers before Farrell hit over another free for Slashers but then Grattans were on target again; Victory converting another free.
Slashers gave away another needless free minutes later which Victory duly converted again before Niall Kelly pointed a fine effort in the 43rd minute. Grattans last score of the game came from Victory in the 52nd minute.
In the final few minutes Slashers went in search of a goal and Kelly was unlucky to see his effort come off the post in the 60th minute. Deep into stoppage time Ciaran Farrell fired over his fourth free to get the last score of the game to leave the wide margin of 11 points in it at the end.
YOUNG GRATTANS: Stephen Hussey; Michael Stokes, Karl Murray, Gary Hewitt; Timmy Hegarty (1-0), John Balfe (0-1), Damien McHugh; Shane Cassidy (0-1), John Twaddle; David Trappe, Willie John McDermott (0-1), Michael Madden; Gerard Victory (0-6, 6f), Kevin Jones (1-2), Emmet Clarke(0-2).
Subs:- George Balfe for M Madden (49 mins); Padraig Dennigan for S Cassidy (53 mins); Robert Kilmeade for K Jones (58 mins); Tony Maguire for D McHugh (58 mins), Peter McKenna for J Twaddle (60 mins).
LONGFORD SLASHERS: Paddy McKeon; Martin Jennings, Shane O’Connell, Jamie Mulligan; Shane Dann, John McKeon, Barry O’Rourke; Shane Campbell, Tadgh Maher; James Martin, Chris McGurren, Ciaran Farrell (0-4, 4f); Andrew Lyons (0-1), Tom Madden (0-2), Niall Kelly (0-1).
Subs:- Adrian Duffy for T Maher (22 mins); Sean Meenaghan for J McKeon (26 mins); Patrick Farrell for J Martin (38 mins); Daniel Phillips for J Mulligan (42 mins).
Referee: John Hughes (Killoe Emmet Og).
FOOTNOTE: Young Grattans had great support at the Junior Final and County Board sources suggested that the combined attendance for this game and the following Intermediate Final on Sunday last was in the region of 1,500.