Roscommon champions Pádraig Pearses were crowned Connacht senior club football champions for the very first time in Ballina this afternoon.
The beaten finalists in 2019 proved just too good for Mayo champions Knockmore after a thrilling match that hung in the balance right to the end.
The hero of the hour was Pádraig Pearses’ corner-forward Paul Carey, who shot eight brilliant points (five from play) on his way to delivering a man-of-the-match performance.
Ray Dempsey’s Knockmore side will rue an off-day in front of goal that saw them rack up 14 wides (Pearses only had two wides, by comparison) and, in truth, the Mayo representatives never hit top gear at any stage.
Pat Flanagan’s Pearses got off to the perfect start when Hubert Darcy swept home a penalty in the third minute after Shane McHale brought down Niall Carty.
They were 1-2 to 0-1 ahead by the first water-break but had to batten down the hatches in the second quarter after goalkeeper Paul Whelan was black-carded for a trip, with goalscorer Darcy stepping into goal for 10 minutes.
By half-time the Rossies led by 1-3 to 0-4 ahead after Aidan Orme converted two frees and landed a fine score from a mark to close the gap.
Pearses produced a blistering third quarter that saw them race into a 1-9 to 0-5 lead as Carey cut loose to fire over a string of quality scores.
But Knockmore came roaring back into contention when substitute Charlie Bourke bundled the ball into the back of the net in the 47th minute to cut the gap to just two points.
It was at this stage that Pearses really showed their mettle and three points in two minutes from Carey, Emmett Kelly, and Ronan Daly looked to have settled the argument.
But Knockmore rallied again and four white flags in the last eight minutes from Keith Ruttledge (2), Peter Naughton, and Orme set up a grandstand finish.
But Pearses held their nerve and a fine score in additional time from sub’ Tom Butler proved vital.
Pádraig Pearses will now take on Leinster champions Kilmacud Crokes in the All-Ireland club semi-final later this month.
P Whelan; M Richardson, A Butler, G Downey; C Lohan, R Daly (0-1), D Murray; N Daly, C Daly; L Daly, N Carty, S Carty; C Payne (0-1), H Darcy (1-1, 1-0 pen), P Carey (0-8, 3fs).
C Keogh for Downey (inj, 2); T Butler (0-1) for L Daly (40); E Kelly (0-1) for S Carty (47); S Ryan for Keogh (57).
C Reape (0-1); M Park, David McHale, S Holmes; N Armstrong, K King, C Flynn; K McLoughlin, S McHale; P Ruttledge, A Naughton, C Dempsey; J Ruddy, A Orme (0-5, 2fs, 1 mark), P Naughton (0-3).
L Durcan for Ruddy (21); C Bourke (1-0) for King (inj, 33); Darren McHale for Park (40); K Ruttledge (0-2) for A Naughton (56); K Langan for P Ruttledge (60).
J Molloy (Galway).