The Last Decade
The club felt at this time that in the long term interest of Juvenile football in the parish, it would be better if it fielded teams on its own. In 1996 with this in mind, the club withdrew from the Naomh
Baoithe underage set up.This decision has been fully vindicated in over the last decade as Naomh Mairtin have been a force at all juvenile levels, winning trophyies at every age group. Practically all of our present adult teams have been the product of this ‘go it alone’ decision.
At senior level, Kevin Lambe, Noel Healy and a great Meath man, Liam Smyth, took of the running of the senior team. The season started well, and after beating St Joseph’s, the Mairtin’s earned draws with the Newtown Blues and The Dundalk Gaels.
Things went downhill from there on in, but the club still managed to avoid relegation after a play-off with the Geraldines. This Houdini act came thanks to some of the club’s top performers, such as Martin Morgan and the McDonnell, Lambe and Winters brothers and emerging stars like JP Rooney, Stephen Murphy, Damien Carroll and Paul Gaynor.
On a sad note, 1996 marked the passing of the club’s president and founding member Jimmy Shevlin, the heart and soul of Naomh Mairtin.
Jimmy was extremely popular with everyone in the club and was an inspiration to all. His death was mourned by friends from all over the county and further afield. ‘Ní bheidh a leitheid ann arís’.
1997 was a transition year, with more up and coming players such as Nicky McDonnell and Patrick Loughran coming to the fore. Things were boding well for the following season.
The restructuring at underage level could and probably should have translated into success in the senior grade in 1998. Wins against Naomh Finbarra and Roche Emmets set up a semi-final clash with Lannleire. The Roche game was particularly memorable, with a penalty save from Barry Murtagh and a dramatic JP Rooney goal ensuring progression.
Unfortunately the local semi-final clash against the Dunleer outfit ended in disappointment, as the Mairtin’s bowed out. Later in the year, the Jocks once again tasted semi-final defeat, this time in the league at the hands of St Pat’s, leaving many at the club calling for semi-finals to be done away with.
Meanwhile at underage level, things were looking good. The minor team won medals in a Drogheda final, under the guidance of E McQuillan, J Healy and M Smyth. Paddy Halligan, Mick Fanning and Brian Halligan guided the Under-11s and 12s to the final of the Drogheda League and a Mid-Louth semi-final, while Nicky Sullivan’s Under-14s lost out in the B Championship final but made up for it by taking the Callan Cup.
1999 was a mixed season. Raymond Lambe, Martin Morgan and Kenneth ‘Rocky’ Rock took over the running of the senior team, in the first year the league was divided up into Division 1A and 1B. The disappointment of a first-round championship exit was tempered by reaching the semi-final of the Cardinal O’Donnell Cup.
Off the pitch plans were afoot for the creation of a new pitch beside the existing facility. In the words of the then Chairman John Mulroy, ‘the Mairtin’s were ready to march into the new millennium with great heart and enthusiasm’.
The less said about 2000 the better. No league wins and another first-round championship exit was a very disappointing return and the club just about managed to retain its senior status. On a brighter note, new floodlights were installed and the new pitch was nearing completion, while young stars like Francis McCullough, Ian McGovern, Barry Sullivan and Philip McGovern were emerging.
2001 was all about the Under-16s. The famous management team of Paddy Halligan and Mick Fanning and the expert coach Brian Halligan inspired the young team to a Doyle Family B Championship victory, beating the Treacy’s, the Bride’s the Joes and Roche in the final on July 21. All-star performances from Patrick Halligan and Mark McCormack and a late goal from Padraig ‘Pozzy’ McDonagh sealed the win.
2002 proved to be quite a successful campaign. The Mairtin’s reached the quarter-final of the championship, only to be beaten by Mattock Rangers. However, a good league campaign resulted in promotion to the top deck of Division 1.
Galway native Declan Smith was at the helm in 2003 and he brought a number of young players such as Kenneth Lambe, Patrick Sullivan and Ronan Gillard through to the senior team. The young Mairtin’s side were beaten by St Mary’s in the championship. However they enjoyed good wins in the earlier rounds over Roche, Kilkerly and Glyde Rangers, with Francis McCullough and Eddie Martin
proving the stars of the season.
2004 was another disappointing year for Naomh Mairtin and after an initial win over Roche, they lost out to St Patrick’s and the Clans. Eddie Martin also picked up a bad injury in the Clans game which proved a major blow.
The entire parish was brimming with pride, though, when JP Rooney was voted Louth Player of the Year.
In 2005 the Mairtin’s opened their season with an impressive win over Stabannon Parnells, with Damien Carroll, Francis McCullough, Raymond Winters, Nicky McDonnell, Patrick Halligan and Mark McCormack doing the scoring.
Then a draw against Roche was followed by a win over the Dreadnotts. St Bride’s were the next team to be put to the sword, but a semi-final against a very strong Mattock Rangers proved a bridge too far. 2006 was to be a much more successful year though.
Things looked glum when Cooley defeated the Mairtin’s in the opening game of the campaign. However, the Monasterboice men recovered well and beat the O’Mahony’s and the Geraldine’s to book a place in the quarter-final of the championship against the Newtown Blues. Unfortunately the Mairtin’s bowed out after a replay in the O’Raghallaigh’s.
Fine league form in 2006 meant a place in the final was secured. The Sean O’Mahony’s were the opponents and after a thoroughly enjoyable game, the Jocks emerged victorious with five points to spare. After the game a very proud Nicky McDonnell lifted the McShane Cup, the first senior trophy for the club in 18 years.
Naomh Mairtin 1-8
Sean O’Mahony’s 0-6
Christmas came early in Monasterboice this year as Naomh Mairtin clinched their first senior trophy in 18 years with a deserved five-point win over Sean O’Mahony’s in their final Division 1B game on Saturday night.
Both sides were assured a place in the senior grade going into the match, but the Mairtin’s preserved their proud unbeaten home record for the season with a commanding display. The visitors started brightly and were rewarded with a brace of frees converted by Gerry Dooner, but the Mairtin’s hit back with a JP Rooney penalty and never relinquished their lead thereafter. They enjoyed a two-point lead at
half-time and were ahead by seven at one stage in the second period.
Barry Sullivan was superb for the winners and shaded Dooner for the honour of man-of-the-match. The Mairtin’s were also well served by Ian McGovern at the back and Francis McCullough, JP Rooney and Nicky McDonnell in attack.
By contrast Sean O’Mahony’s struggled to break down the resolute Mairtin’s defence and Damien Lynch’s goal was never under threat.
After the game, the Mairtin’s captain Nicky McDonnell accepted the McShane Cup from County Board Chairman Paddy Oliver and needless to say wild celebrations followed.
NAOMH MAIRTIN – Damien Lynch, Ian McGovern, Eddie Martin, Ronan Gillard, Kenneth
Lambe, Barry Sullivan, Paul Berill, James McDonnell, Mick Faning, Francis McCullough 0-3, David
Delaney, Paddy Loughran, Patrick Halligan 0-1, Nicky McDonnell 0-2, JP Rooney 1-2. Subs: Padraig
McDonagh for P Halligan, Paul McDonnell for P Loughran, Mark McCormack for J McDonnell.
Referee – John Kelleher.