Rosenallis 1-15 The Harps 1-14
Laois Shopping Centre SHC ‘A’ Round 1
Rosenallis are a club on serious upward curve and their confidence was clear for all to see in Mountrath on Sunday evening as they turned in a very impressive second-half display to see off the challenge of pre-championship favourites The Harps in a hugely enjoyable opening round game.
The Harps had eased through the Division 1A league campaign and although the final of that competition wasn’t played – as a suitable date couldn’t be found and Colt opted to award the game – they still were fancied to take the first step back to senior hurling here.
Last year two grades separated the clubs with Rosenallis in the intermediate grade and The Harps at senior. The Durrow-Cullahill outfit are looking to repeat the exploits of the likes of Portlaoise, Castletown and Ballinakill in recent years who have all bounced back immediately from relegation.
On a glorious evening for hurling in front of a decent crowd, Rosenallis made light of their underdog status from the start. Goalkeeper Stephen Kelly came up to point a free to get the scoring underway and Eoin Clancy replied to set in motion a ding-dong first-half battle.
Michael Lanigan pointed frees either side of a fine John Lennon point and two from Paddy Keating (one free) nudged Declan Conroy’s side into the lead by the seventh minute. Lanigan hit back again but Rosenallis were creating goal chances – and the post a good save from Peter Walsh – rescued The Harps in quick succession. But Ronan Murray, whose earlier effort had come back off the upright, wasn’t to be denied when he got in on goal again and his strike in the 13th minute put his side three up.
In fairness to The Harps, they responded by hitting the next four points – one each from Lanigan, Eoin Clancy, Richie Saunders and Pat Walsh – to be back in the lead within eight minutes of the goal.
John Lennon again tied things up but The Harps would have the last say of the half when former county man John Brophy fired a wonderful goal into the dressing rooms end of the ground. At half time The Harps led 1-8 to 1-5.
Joe Keating and Saunders swapped points early in the second half but three in a row for Rosenallis, from Kelly (free), Paddy Keating and Fiachra C Fennell had the sides level again by the 42nd minute.
In a wonderful minute of hurling Padraig Delaney responded straight away before John Lennon hit back instantly again. It was game on, as they’d say on the telly.
John Brophy pushed The Harps back in the lead with 13 minutes remaining but it was in the final 10 that Rosenallis won it. Two brilliant points from Ronan Murray in a minute followed quickly by a Paddy Keating free and then another from Fiachra C Fennell had Rosenallis three clear with six minutes left.
Delaney and Lanigan reduced the gap again but Rosenallis weren’t to be denied. Lennon and Lanigan cancelled each other out with late points and Pat Moran’s final whistle brought cheers of delight from the large Rosenallis following. They’ve had plenty to cheer about over the last 12 months and this journey has plenty of miles in it yet.
The Harps aren’t gone though and they’ll look to regroup through the Qualifiers and show why they were deemed favourites to start with in the first place.
Don’t rule out these two meeting again.
SCORERS – Rosenallis: Ronan Murray 1-2, John Lennon and Paddy Keating (two frees) 0-4 each, Fiachra C Fennell 0-2, Stephen Kelly 0-2 (both frees) and Joe Keating 0-1. The Harps: Michael Lanigan 0-6 (five frees), John Brophy 1-1, Eoin Clancy 0-2, Padraig Delaney 0-2, Richie Saunders 0-2, Pat Walsh 0-1
ROSENALLIS: Stephen Kelly; Marcus Redmond, Enda McEvoy, Cormac White; Ciaran White, Thomas Keating, Cathal C Fennell; Jack Conroy, Brian Fitzpatrick; Fiachra C Fennell, Patrick Keating, John Lennon; Walter Murphy, Ronan Murray, Joe Keating. Sub: Ruadhri C Fennell for McEvoy
THE HARPS: Peter Walsh; Tommy Moore, Pakie Flynn, Gavin Dunne; Conor Brophy, Conor Dunne, John Prior; Shane Phelan, Michael Lanigan; Daniel Comerford, Pat Walsh, Richie Saunders; Eoin Clancy, John Brophy, Padraig Delaney. Subs: Ciaran Comerford for D Comerford, Brian Clancy for Pat Walsh, Ronan Delahunty for C Brophy
REFEREE: Pat Moran (Graigeucullen)