For weeks, the focus before this All-Ireland junior final zeroed in on Derrytresk, but Galway’s Naomh Pádraig stole the limelight in Croke Park yesterday by claiming the honours in the most dramatic fashion.
That said, it will always be a result tempered by an asterisk, given the Tyrone champions competed without seven players suspended in the wake of the scenes in the Portlaoise semi-final last month. Indeed the players wore the numbers of their suspended team-mates on the back of their jerseys.
They led for all but seven of the 60 minutes yet failed to score in the last 17 after an impressive first half and opened the door for the Galway side to reel them in with seconds left to go.
Club chairman Barney Campbell certainly had no hesitation in pointing to the missing faces as the reason for their eventual defeat and blamed the media for what he considered had not been a “fair trial”.
The physical toll on the Tyrone side was apparent from the start of the final quarter when a handful began to cramp, but they will rue, too, the fact that only corner-forward Niall Gavin could register a score from the 13th minute on.
Naomh Pádraig, in contrast, spread their scorers throughout the afternoon — half a dozen in total — even if it took them until the second half to fully hit their stride and claim their first from play.
Derrytresk dominated the opening period but should have held more than just four points at the interval.
Playing with a sweeper and as many as 14 men behind the ball when defending, they harassed their opponents into mistakes and moved with a clarity of purpose and speed in possession.
They were already 0-3 to 0-1 up when the second quarter kicked in and they were awarded two penalties – one for a clear foul by corner-back Liam Diskin on Pat Campbell and the other for an indiscretion by goalkeeper Paraic Walsh.
Less than two minutes separated the incidents but, while Gavin slotted the first to his right, he changed corners for the follow-up and was duly thwarted by the man who atoned brilliantly for his earlier error.
So, a lead that should have been eight points was five, four by the break and just one within seconds of the restart when Alan Kyne latched on to a dropping ball in the Derrytresk box to emphatically finish past the goalkeeper.
Still, Derrytresk refused to lie down.
Three points in-a-row restored their half-time advantage but Gavin’s third free on 43 minutes was their last score as the momentum shifted permanently in favour of the Connemara men.
Naomh Pádraig chipped away at the lead but the wave stalled temporarily inside the last ten minutes when they endured a period blemished with poor shots and sloppy passing.
Luckily for them, Derrytresk were doing likewise.
The Galwaymen claimed the lead for the very first time with 85 seconds of normal time left but ended the game with 14 men after Diskin received his second yellow card on the stroke of full-time.
It was the eighth card — and sixth for the winners — on a day devoid of cynicism on either side but it only ended two minutes into injury-time when Gavin sent wide a 40-metre free that would have taken the game to extra-time.
Scorers for Derrytresk: N Gavin 1-4 (3fs), J McKee 0-2, C O’Neill 0-1.
Scorers for Naomh Padraig: E Joyce 0-4fs, A Kyne 1-0, D Wallis, T Lydon, E Ó Cuiv, L Kearney 0-1 each.
DERRYTRESK: A Quinn; J Dillon, C Corr, S O’Neill; E Rea, C O’Neill, G Devlin; C Gavin, R O’Neill; P Campbell, J McKee, C O’Neill; N Gavin, M Rea, K Quinn.
Subs: D Hanna for C Gavin (45); Campbell (58).
NAOMH PADRAIG: P Walsh; L Diskin, D Kyne, S Holleran; D Wallis, T Lydon, F Kinneavy; A Kyne, E O Cuiv; L Kearney, P Lambe, W Holleran; G Kyne, B Keane, E Joyce.
Referee: G McCormack (Dublin).
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