A big finish to both halves earned St Gerald’s a seventh provincial championship when they outlasted a gallant and game Summerhill squad in Charlestown today.
A goal and a point in the closing moments of the first half and four points without reply in the dying minutes of the contest left the Castlebar boys dancing in the rain at the final whistle.
Summerhill were backed by the big breeze in the opening half and built up a four-point lead by the end of the third quarter, 0-5 to 0-1.
Impressive centre-half-forward Eoghan Smith kicked two classy points while Jim Davis, Fionn Connolly and Jack Davitt landed points from distance.
Paddy Heneghan was Castlebar’s only scorer in the opening 15 minutes, but leader of the attack would become more and more prominent as the match progressed.
Joe Tuohy, Oisin Tunney, James Cunningham and their defensive colleagues tightened up considerably in the second quarter and Summerhill’s charge was halted.
Castlebar’s highly-impressive wing-back, Tomas Waldron came forward to kick a point before Heneghan closed the gap to two after 23 minutes.
Eventually, Smith converted a free to put Summerhill three clear again, before disaster struck for the Sligo boys.
Influential full-back Marc Connolly McGowan had to leave the pitch with an injury and as the blues restructured, Gerald’s swooped for a goal when Cillian Redmond volleyed to the net.
Redmond followed up immediately with a Gerald’s point and the Mayo boys took a lead to the break, 1-4 to 0-6.
Castlebar had the big wind on their backs in the second half and a Heneghan brace put his side three clear after 35 minutes.
Darragh Reilly added another for the leaders before Summerhill began to win the majority of possession around the middle and push forward.
Luke Casserly started the fightback with a classy score from the right before Smith kicked two magical frees from distance to close the gap to a single point, 0-9 to 1-7, after 46 minutes.
Once again, Summerhill were hit by a hammer-blow when hard-working midfielder Oran McDonagh was dismissed for a second bookable offence before points from Redmond and Waldron eased Gerald’s out to a three-point advantage.
Another outstanding free from Smith kept Summerhill in the running with four minutes to play before they were reduced to 13 when wing-back Brian Callaghan was dismissed when receiving a black card after a yellow.
In reality, that was the end of the affair and Gerald’s made their numerical advantage pay with closing points from Waldron, Robbie Finnerty, Heneghan and Redmond to win their first title since 2014.
J Livingstone; J Cunningham, J Tuohy, C McHale; T Waldron (0-3), O Tunney, D McHugh; C Redmond (1-3, 2f), N Carter; E Murphy, P Heneghan (0-5, 3f), C Donoghue; P Walsh, R Finnerty (0-1), P Beirne
Subs; J Walsh for Cunningham (ht), M Fahy for Donoghue (35), D Reilly (0-1) for Beirne (40), A McHale for Finnerty (58)
J Teape; S Muldowney, M Connolly McGowan, C Mulligan; B Callaghan, T Gavin, L Casserly (0-1); O McDonagh, C Kevany; P Maher, E Smith (0-6, 5f), F Connolly (0-1); J Davis (0-1), M Walsh, J Davitt (0-1)
Subs; C O’Reilly for Connolly McGowan (29), J Cox for Kevany (ht), C Oates for Maher (45)