Stradbally 3-8 Ballyfin Gaels 0-18
Laois Shopping Centre Senior Football Championship Round 2 Qualifier
Stradbally’s defence of the Jack Delaney Cup is over after they were dumped out of the championship by Ballyfin Gaels.
Donnacha Phelan’s side withstood a late comeback from the Little Town to win by the minimum in the end.
They led by five points with the game in injury time but Stradbally managed a late goal to set up a tense conclusion as Ballyfin held on.
And Stradbally made a simply incredible start. Greg Ramsbottom fielded a Ballyfin kick-out and surged forward before finding Podge Fitzpatrick who smashed the ball into the top corner.
Ballyfin responded well with Richie Downey and Robert Tyrrell both scoring from distance before Greg Ramsbottom left it 1-1 to 0-2 after ten minutes with a lovely left foot effort.
But Ballyfin Gaels hadn’t just come to make up the numbers and they soon drew level through Moore brothers, Seán and James.
Tom Shiel finished off a great run with a point but Ballyfin led by the midpoint of the half after Seán Moore kicked a free and David Connolly landed one from 30 metres.
Jody Dillon got the champions level from a free but David Connolly regained Ballyfin’s lead after a turnover in the Stradbally defence to put them back ahead with five minutes to play.
Ricky Quillinan was having a field day winning high ball in the Ballyfin attack and he increased the lead to two before setting up Robert Tyrrell to land his second point.
Jack Deegan and Ricky Quillinan exchanged points to send us to the dressing room with the score at 0-10 to 1-4 – meaning a shock was well a truly on the cards.
Just as they did in the first half, Stradbally win the throw up and ran down the pitch where Garry Comerford cut the deficit.
Ballyfin responded through Louis Duff but Colm Kelly narrowed the gap to two once more after 34 minutes.
But Ballyfin were determined to stay in front and they went five clear with twenty minutes to play thanks to Seán Moore and Louis Duff.
The same pair edged Ballyfin seven clear with a quarter of the game to play and a shock now looked inevitable.
Jody Dillon kicked a point for Stradbally but with the game now in the final five minutes, the Little Town needed goals.
They got one when substitute Benny Lawlor fisted a high ball to the net but Ballyfin shrugged that off by Ricky Quillinan and Robert Tyrell pointing.
Three minutes of injury time were signalled and Darren Maher fisted home Stradbally’s third goal in the first of them.
Garry Comerford then converted a free and now there was just one between them with 30 second to play.
But Ballyfin won the resulting kick-out and won the game.
SCORERS – STRADBALLY: Podge Fitzpatrick, Darren Maher and Benny Lawlor 1-0 each, Jody Dillon 0-3 (0-1 free), Greg Ramsbottom 0-1, Tom Shiel 0-1, Jack Deegan 0-1, Garry Comerford 0-2 (0-1 free) BALYFIN GAELS: Seán Moore 0-5 (0-4 frees), James Moore 0-1, Robert Tyrrell 0-3, Richie Downey 0-1, David Connolly 0-2, Ricky Quillinan 0-3, Louis Duff 0-4
STRADBALLY: Wayne Comerford; Colin Beale, Eoin Buggie, Eamon Conlon; Podge Fitzpatrick, Stephen Lawlor, Jamie Kavanagh; Jack Deegan, Darren Maher; Cormac Delaney, Tom Shiel, Greg Ramsbottom; Colm Kelly, Jody Dillon, Colm Begley. Subs: Garry Comerford for Delaney (22mins), Damien Murphy for Deegan (38mins), Justin Lalor for Fitzpatrick (38mins), Liam Knowles for Lawlor (47mins), Benny Lawlor for Shiel (53mins), Podge Langton for Ramsbottom (54mins)
BALLYFIN: Robbie Foran; Barry Roche, Shane Farrell, David Connolly; Richie Downey, George Lanham, Darragh Connolly; James Finn, Eoin Dunphy; Robert Tyrrell, James Moore, Nick Cosgrove; Ricky Quillinan, Louis Duff, Seán Moore. Subs: Darragh Delaney for Dunphy (35mins), Ciarán Fingleton for Downey (58mins, inj)