Louth 1-14 Limerick 0-12
Louth captain Sam Mulroy was the first Louth man to walk up the Hogan Stand steps since Paddy Keenan lifted the Division Three title in 2011 as Mickey Harte's side reclaimed that title once again at the expense of a resurgent Limerick outfit.
The decider hinged on the moment Louth corner back Dan Corcoran got his fingertips to a loose ball deep in his own half to start a coast-to-coast counterattack that saw Liam Jackson finish low to the net.
Ironically Jackson also found the net in the league win over Limerick back in February. The wing forward’s finish was sublime but the manner of the rapid attack brought the Louth fans to their feet in anticipation and once executed the goal rocked Limerick into submission.
With Billy Lee's side in a daze, Louth tagged on three more points to seize the moment. Man-of-the-match Tommy Durnin swerved over the bar with the outside of his right boot, Ciarán Byrne clipped over his third point and Mulroy ended the blitz with a booming free.
The goal was effectively worth more than three points. Stunned in the hollow cavern of GAA headquarters on league final day, Limerick lacked the experience of Croke Park, with only Iain Corbett and Darragh Treacy having played there before and Louth controlled the game from that point onwards.
The goal in the 54th minute undid what was a tense affair up until that point. The opening half saw Louth fail to score for 20 minutes after Daire Nally put them 0-4 to 0-2 ahead.
Limerick, without their injured fulcrum Brian Donovan, didn't lack creativity as Hugh Bourke and Adrian Enright looped time after time to land a brace apiece.
Louth relied on Mulroy from placed balls to stay in touch but they were admittedly off their game as they trailed 0-7 to 0-6 at the break.
Limerick held on to that one-point advantage as both sides went point for point in a game that looked primed from extra-time. Josh Ryan added to his tally while John Clutterbuck and Byrne found the target for Harte's side.
Then came the decisive goal, Byrne’s explosive transition cannot be understated in its build up and his wayward assist allowed Jackson to round the last Limerick defender for the winner. Riding on a wave of confidence, Louth eased to victory, their sixth in a row. Sheer momentum.
LOUTH: J Califf; D McKenny, B Duffy, D Corcoran; L Grey, N Sharkey (0-1), C McKeever; T Durnin (0-1), J Clutterbuck (0-1); L Jackson (1-0), S Mulroy (0-6, three frees, two 45s), C Lennon; C Byrne (0-4), C Downey, D Nally (0-1).
Subs: T Jackson for Lennon (25 mins), E Callaghan for Grey (27), C Grimes for Nally (59), C Early for Clutterbuck (66).
LIMERICK: D O'Sullivan; S O'Dea, B Fanning, M Donovan (0-1); C Sheehan, I Corbett, P Maher; D Treacy, C Fahy; A Enright (0-2), K Ryan, J Naughton; P Nash (0-2), J Ryan (0-3, one free), H Bourke (0-2).
Subs: R Childs for Fahy (17 mins), R Bourke (0-2, two frees) for Nash (49), P De Brún for Ryan (51), J Liston for Ryan (59), T McCarthy for Treacy (66).
Referee: B Griffen (Kerry)