St Paul’s NS’s Cormac Fitzsimons holds off the challenge of St Mary’s Michael Flynn during the Boys Div 1 final on Friday afternoon. Photo: David Mullen/

Primary Schools Finals: St Paul's end 20-year wait for glory

BOYS DIV 1 One of best finals ever to grace Navan venue

St Paul's of Navan won their first Boys Div 1 title since 2002 with a sensational 4-16 to 4-9 victory over St Mary's Ashbourne in an absolute titanic thriller at Pairc Tailteann on Friday.

The contest was in the balance until the closing few minutes when the brilliance of Harry McGuirk and Cormac Fitzsimons gave the Navan boys their wins.

It took a while for the scoring to reach fever pitch, but the contest was hot from the off with Harry McGuirk forcing Shane Barrett into a brilliant save and Michael Flynn producing a stunning block to deny Cormac Fitzsimons in the opening 10 seconds.

It was Ashbourne who opened the scoring with Conor Dwyer on target and from the kickout Rob Moran forced Rian Mulvaney into an excellent stop.

That save inspired St Paul's with Cormac Fitzsimons pointing twice to give his side the lead.

Dara Naughton replied with a converted free to restore parity, but the Navan school were on top as Cormac Fitzsimons hit the post before McGuirk edged them in front with a free.

Cillian Fitzsimons put two points between the sides for the first time, but then St Mary's hit a purple patch with Moran pointing before then winning the resultant kickout and setting up Naughton for a fine goal to make it 1-3 to 0-4.

With the scores now coming thick and fast it was St Paul's who assumed control with Cormac Fitzsimons sweeping a loose ball to the net before winning the next kickout and pointing.

Cormac Fitzsimons continued to dominate and produced a stunning finish for his second goal to make it 2-5 to 1-3.

Two points from McGuirk (one from a '35') and a tap over from Cillian Fitzsimons stretched St Paul's lead to 2-8 to 1-3, but St Mary's closed the half on the front foot with points from Calum Kelly and Naughton closing the deficit to 1-5 to 2-8 at half-time.

Rob Moran closed that gap further 36 seconds after the restart when he scrambled the ball to the net from close range, but every time St Mary's got themselves back into the game St Paul's responded in style.

Eanna Kenny and Cormac Fitzsimons (free) replied with points for the Navan boys, but again St Mary's gave themselves hope when Naughton's long delivery fell kindly to Liam Brooks and he finished to the net and when Finn Moore added a point there was only the minimum between the sides, 3-6 to 2-10, in the fifth minute of the second period.

However, St Paul's didn't panic. After Kenny was denied by a fine save Cillian Fitzsimons scrambled the ball to the net to restore a four-point cushion for St Paul's.

McGuirk (free) and Darragh Ward added points to make it 3-12 to 3-6, but again St Mary's refused to give up and hit back with their fourth goal when Michael Flynn got the vital touch at the back post to steer the ball to the net and when Naughton pointed there was only two points between the sides with 12 minutes remaining.

St Paul's piled forward again with Cormac Fitzsimons denied by Shane Barrett before McGuirk converted the '35'. Cormac Fitzsimons did add to his tally when he traded points with Moran and Naughton to maintain the three-point lead, 3-15 to 4-9.

With four minutes remaining McGuirk wrapped up the victory with one of the most stunning goals every scored in Pairc Taillteann when he cut in from the left before executing a brilliant finish.

Moments later McGuirk added an equally impressive point to seal the win which captain Kenny dedicated to their former St Paul's schoolmate Zak Moran who passed away earlier this year and whose 12th birthday would have been Friday.

St Paul's NS Navan - Rian Mulvaney; Lewis Curran, Daniel St Ledger, Conan Tansey; Rian Carolan, Luke Murphy, Tomás Reilly; Dara Cromwell, Harry McGuirk (1-6 two frees, two '35s'); Éanna Kenny (0-1), Cormac Fitzsimons (2-6 two frees), Ruairí McDermott; Daragh Maguire, Darragh Ward (0-1), Cillian Fitzsimons (1-2). Subs - Jayden Gillen, Owen Geoghegan, Ben Brown, Tadhg Dunleavy, Jack McCarthy, Matthew Gribbin, Gabriel Phelan, Eoghan Flannery, Ceilum Stynes, Tadhg Maguire. Mentors - Ian Matthews, Ben Hoey, Pauric O’Connor.

St Mary's NS Ashbourne - Shane Barrett; Jeff Mahon, Dylan Pentony, Michael Flynn (1-0); Finn Moore (0-1), Cillian Brady, Callum Sheridan; Dara Naughton (1-4 two frees), Conor Dwyer (0-1); Liam Tuohy, Rob Moran (1-2), Jamie Geary-Gibbons; Luke Moran, Calum Kelly (0-1), Liam Brooks (1-0). Subs - Edvin Rus, Jack Rotaru, Joe McBrearty, Ronan O’Shea, Tadg O’Reilly, PJ McDonagh, Fionn Dowling, Ross Thompson, Shane Naughton, Darragh Dwyer, Daniel Daly, Stanley Pigott, Michael Meehan, Cian Daly, Conor Colbert, Mickey Colbert. Mentors - Ciarán Giblin, Mary Bennett, Tony Cawley.

Referee - Eoin Joyce (St Michael's Trim).