Stradbally 0-10 The Heath 0-12
ACFL Division 1A
The next time these two sides meet will be in the first round of the championship – but tonight, it was The Heath who claimed victory thanks to three very late points.
The need for the win in Bill Delaney Park this evening was mucher greater for The Heath with the threat of relegation hanging upon them but Donie Norton’s men grinded out a win after initially throwing away a four point lead.
The Heath led by 0-9 to 0-5 as we entered the final ten minutes but they switched off and allowed Stradbally take the lead with less than three minutes to play before coming back to win.
21 of the 22 point scored in this game came from play and the first of them arrived inside the first ten seconds when Colm Kelly opened the scoring for Stradbally.
Chris Bergin replied for The Heath but Stradbally grabbed the next two scores via Jody Dillon and Kelly to go 0-3 to 0-1 ahead after seven minutes.
However, Stradbally failed to score again in the first half as The Heath took control.
Podge Whelan kicked a brace before Bergin, Colin Nestor and Jimmy Nerney all raised white flags to move The Heath into a 0-6 to 0-3 lead at half time.
Things could have been even better for The Heath when Ciarán Booth rampaged forward and found Robbie Dowling in front of goal but stradbally keeper Jack Larkin pulled off a fine save.
Robbie Dowling fisted The Heath four clear on the resumption of play but Podge Fitzpatrick replied for Stradbally and then almost had a goal when he exchanged passes with Colm Kelly but his thunderbolt came back off the bar.
Stradbally introduced Greg Ramsbottom for his first action since last year’s county final and the veteran reduced the arrears to two with his first touch.
Both teams then had further goal chances. First, The Heath broke up the field and Chris Bergin went around keeper Jack Larkin only to see his shot blocked on the line by Jamie Kavanagh.
The ball came back to Robbie Dowling but Kavanagh showed that he may have a future as a goalkeeper by pulling off another incredible save.
Down the other end, Colm Kelly fought hard to turn over possession and fed Greg Ramsbottom but his shot was blocked by full back Gary Hogan.
The Heath tagged on two more points from Robbie Dowling to go four clear with ten minutes to play but back came Stradbally.
Podge Langton, Jack Langton, Colm Kelly and Justin Lalor all split the posts to level the tie before Jack Deegan put the home team one point up with three minutes to play.
The Heath introduced Liam Campbell off the bench and he scored from an acute angle to level the game before Eoin Delaney and Podge Whelan gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Stradbally had late chance to snatch the goal they needed but Colm Kelly’s close range free was blocked on the line as The Heath prevailed.
Next up for The Heath is a tie against Arles-Killeen where just a point from the game will guarantee their safety and relegate their opponents in the process.
While Stradbally face an O’Dempsey’s side who’s charge for a league final place suffered a set back when they were beaten by Graiguecullen tonight.
SCORERS: THE HEATH: Podge Whelan and Robbie Dowling 0-3 each, Chris Bergin 0-2, Colin Nestor, Liam Campbell, Eoin Delaney and Jimmy Nerney 0-1 each STRADBALLY: Colm Kelly 0-3 (0-1free), Jody Dillon, Greg Ramsbottom, Podge Langton, Jack Langton, Justin Lalor, Jack Deegan and Podge Fitzpatrick 0-1 each
THE HEATH: Joe Walshe; Gary Roe Smith, Gary Hogan, Alan Whelan; Jimmy Nerney, Bob Delaney, Ciarán Booth; Colin Nestor, JP Nerney; Brian Ging, Mark Dunne, Robbie Dowling; Eoin Delaney, Podge Whelan, Chris Bergin. Subs: Aidan Bergin for Roe Smith (40mins), Liam Campbell for B. Delaney (53mins), Andrew Booth for E. Delaney (59mins)
STRADBALLY: Jack Larkin; Philip Kelly, Colin Beale, Jamie Kavanagh; Justin Lalor, Liam Knowles, Stephen Lawlor; Conor Delaney, Jack Deegan; Jody Dillon, Cormac Delaney, Podge Fitzpatrick; Benny Lawlor, Colm Kelly, Damien Murphy. Subs: Jack Langton for S. Lawlor (17mins, inj), Podge Langton for Cormac Delaney (42mins), Darren Maher for B. Lawlor (45mins)
Referee: Joe Brennan (Crettyard)
READ ALSO – All of Thursday night’s Laois GAA results