Palatine 2-14 St Patrick’s 0-8
By Brendan Lawrence at Netwatch Cullen Park
Carlow champions Palatine made sweet GAA history under the lights of Netwatch Cullen Park on Saturday night when recording their first ever Leinster Senior Club championship victory when dismissing Wicklow’s St Patrick’s with an emphatic performance.
Pado Flynn’s side recovered from a slow start in damp conditions to charge out to a 1-7 to 0-4 lead at the break, the goal from the excellent Conor Crowley, before powering home to a 2-14 to 0-8 win against the Garden County side who will be fiercely disappointed not to do themselves justice on the provincial stage.
As vital to the Palatine cause as the performances of Shane O’Neill, Conor Crowley and Ciaran Moran were, the marking job of Conor O’Doherty on St Pat’s star Padge McWalter which effectively robbed the visitors of the creativity and impact of the veteran star for much of the game should also be acknowledged.
Robbie Leahy’s men started very brightly with two Conor O’Brien points while Tommy Kelly probably had time to gather in behind Conor Lawlor but chose to flick for goal only to watch it tail wide. Palatine were looking useful but had three wides on the board before Shane O’Neill bagged their opener off his trusty left boot.
A Tommy Kelly peach followed for St Pat’s with nine on the clock but that would be their last score for 20 minutes, registering four wides in that time and struggling to contain a free-flowing and vibrant Palatine side who had Joshua Egan and Conor Crowley causing havoc inside.
Palatine were level after 16, two Shane O’Neill frees gaining parity, and Conor Crowley pushed them into a lead they would never relinquish with a beauty after 17 and should have had a penalty a moment later when pulled down inside the square only for a free just outside to be awarded.
St Patrick’s goalkeeper Shane Doyle was called on twice to make two massive saves in the first half but there was little he could do when Palatine launched a sweeping move from goalkeeper Craig Kearney all the way to Conor Crowley who finished home after 30 to leave them 1-7 to 0-4 ahead and looking likely to rampage home with a vocal crowd and the breeze behind them.
And that’s exactly how it would unfold. Two early points from Andrew Kehoe and Joshua Egan were answered by a Tommy Kelly effort after seven of the second half but Shane O’Neill rifled over a free to make it 1-11 to 0-5.
Another O’Neill free after 13 was followed by the death knell for St Patricks when a sweet Pal move ended with Thomas Sheehan flicking to the back of Shane Doyle net to make it 2-12 to 0-6, the St Pat’s score coming from a 45 from Shane Doyle.
Both sides made several changes for the remainder of the game with Shane O’Neill and Cathal O’Neill completing the scoring for Palatine while a Stephen Duffy free and Paul O’Brien from play brought the curtains down on a bad night for St Patrick’s but an historic first for the men of Palatine who will march on with justified confidence.
Palatine: Craig Kearney; Conor O’Doherty, Darragh Fitzgerald, Gavin Healy; Cillian Duff, Conor Lawlor, Ciaran Moran; Jason Kane, Finbarr Kavanagh; Thomas Sheehan (1-0), Shane O’Neill (0-7, 6f), Bryan McMahon; Andrew Kehoe (0-2), Joshua Egan (0-1), Conor Crowley (1-3, 1f). Subs: C O’Neill (0-1) for Kehoe (48), P Kelly for Sheehan (52), T Fitzharris for McMahon (58), C Kelly for Egan (62), S Woods for Lawlor (62).
St Patrick’s: Shane Doyle (0-1, 45); Paddy O’Keane, Matthew Traynor, Cian O’Brien; John Crowe, Simon Bouchier, Niall Delahunt; Dean Healy, Fionn Luddy; Paul O’Brien (0-1), Padge McWalter, Bryan Doyle; Conor O’Brien (0-2) (0-2), Ciaran McGettigan, Tommy Kelly (0-3, 1f). Subs: Paul Earls for C McGettigan (40); Mark O’Brien for Boucher (48); Stephen Duffy (0-10 for B Doyle (51).
Referee: Patrick Maguire (Longford)