McKenna lit up Croke Park with his haul of 1-7 from play, all but one point coming in the first-half, and admitted watching former Tyrone star Owen Mulligan captain Cookstown to the title 12 months ago made him want to follow suit.
“Everyone was disappointed when we went down last year (2012) from senior football but when I saw a picture of Owen Mulligan cheering after the final whistle when winning the All-Ireland last year, that was the first thing I thought of.
“I thought ‘that could be us next year’. “I can’t believe it has actually happened.
“That was the hardest game I’ve played in a long time and I’m so proud of the boys. The whole parish is behind us and I’m so proud.
“I won’t be thinking about what I scored. I’ll be looking at the cup and the boys and faces of all the young ones in the crowd. That’s what’s really important.”
Truagh kicked strong for home and scored the last six points of the game against Mayo intermediate champions Kiltane to follow fellow Monaghan club Inniskeen (2006) into the history books as All-Ireland intermediate champions.
Kiltane started both halves brilliantly. They scored two goals inside a minute early in the game, Darragh Carey converting a penalty and a screamer from Mikey Sweeney put them 2-1 to 0-3 ahead after seven minutes.
However, McKenna inspired Truagh with a superb finish across the goalkeeper into the far corner of the net after 13 minutes to turn the tide. He tormented his marker Stephen Sweeney with his pace and jinking runs.
Truagh veteran Mark Counihan also hit 1-1 before the break, his composed finish in the 22nd minute giving Truagh a commanding 2-10 to 2-6 cushion at the interval.
Kiltane’s best spell came in the third quarter but they started going for goals far too early when easy points were on offer.
Truagh made some crucial blocks in defence to ensure their goal tactics did not pay off. Goalkeeper Ian Treanor also made an outstanding save at full stretch from Tommy Conroy at a stage when Kiltane had all the momentum.
“We knew that was going to happen,” said McKenna.
“Every team is going to have their purple patch and they really drove at us.
“You can look at what I scored today, but look at what the defenders’ saved — they saved at least three or four goal chances and a couple of points by getting some great blocks in.
“The defence has been unbelievable this year and I can’t give enough credit to the likes of John McCarron, Niall Feely and especially Ian Treanor. He was unbelievable.”
Kiltane got back to within a point of Truagh with nine minutes remaining, with Jason Healy and Ultan Corrigan on the scoresheet with two points each to close the gap to 2-13 to 2-12.
But the Ulster champions, whose brilliant wing-forward Adam Treanor hit four points in the second-half, pulled away. Paudie McKenna was a hugely influential figure as Truagh hit the last six scores of the game without reply to be crowned champions.
Scorers for Truagh Gaels: D McKenna 1-7, A Treanor 0-4, P McKenna 0-4 (1f), M Counihan 1-1, C McKenna 0-2 (1f), S McKenna 0-2, D Finnegan 0-1
Scorers for Kiltane: M Sweeney 1-1, J Healy 0-3 (1 ‘45’), D Carey 1-0, (pen), E Barrett 0-3 (1f), U Corrigan, S Lindsay 0-2 each, S Gaughan, J Reilly 0-1 each
TRUAGH GAELS: I Treanor; J McCarron, N Feely, N McQuillan; B Cuddy, R Treanor, P McKenna; P Treanor, N McRory; A Treanor, C McKenna, E Kelly; D Finnegan, M Counihan, D McKenna
Subs: N Coyle for Kelly 49 mins, K Sheerin for McRory 49 mins, J Treanor for R Treanor 54 mins, S McKenna for Finnegan 58 mins, D McRory for A Treanor 58 mins, A Coyle for Counihan 62 mins
KILTANE: MJ Reilly; D Carey, R Corrigan, S Sweeney; PJ Gaughan, T Gaughan, S Gaughan; J Reilly, J Healy; U Corrigan, S Carey, E Barrett; M Sweeney, S Lindsay, T Conroy
Sub: M Gallagher for D Carey 18 mins
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).