Ballyroan-Abbey 2-9 Crettyard Gaels 0-14
Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 1
Ballyroan-Abbey are into the winners section of the Laois SFC after holding on in a frantic finish against Crettyard Gaels in O’Moore Park this evening.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable game, one that got off to an absolutely blistering start and then finished in a welter of excitement. Ballyroan-Abbey got off to a great start but it was Crettyard who dominated the final quarter and had a chance with the last kick of the game – a free from Cormac Murphy – to earn a draw. His effort went tailed off, meaning Crettyard’s last four attacks all ended with wides. They really should have drawn it and they actually could have won it.
Michael Tierney and Cormac Murphy swapped early points from play and then Ballyroan got the game’s first goal. Padraig McMahon blazed through the centre and his thunderous shot meant Jeff Moran had to be at his best. The Crettyard keeper could only turn the shot into Tierney’s grateful arms and he finished to an empty net from about two yards.
Tierney dropped over a gem of a point from really acute angle moments later but Crettyard took those early blows and responded well. Cristoir Maher clipped one over with the outside of the boot and Murphy and Evan O’Carroll added frees. By the eighth minute, it was Ballyroan-Abbey 1-2 Crettyard Gaels 0-4.
Tierney and county minor Diarmuid Whelan caused all sorts of problems – and scored all of their first-half scores between them – iand Ballyroan had the upper hand for most of the first half. They got their second goal when a Tierney ball found Whelan and he finished to the net via the post in the 18th minute.
Again Crettyard responded well with three of the next four points (all from beautifully struck Murphy dead balls) but a Whelan free had meant Ballyroan led 2-6 to 0-9 at the break.
The second half was a slow burner, really, until the last ten minutes. Two Murphy frees were sandwiched between three from the Whelan cousins; two from Diarmuid (one off each foot) and one from Jamie. But Diarmuid’s second point of the half, which brought his tally to 1-4 in total, was to be their last score.
Connor Barry’s black-carding for a heavy challenge on Adam Brennan saw Jimmy Brennan in for Crettyard. He was to get on a mountain of ball and Crettyard went forward in waves as they chased the game in their typical, aggressive, never-say-die manner.
Pa Brennan came up from centre back to score his almost customary point per game. And the same player could have had a goal moments later when he exchanged passes with big Pa O’Reilly. A Murphy ’45 and then a long-range free after Laois hurler Sean Downey, one of four Spink men, to see game time was fouled. That brought it back to a point.
Amazingly Crettyard would have four good chances to level it. Murphy (free), Paul Simms and Cristoir Maher all saw chances go astray before Clifford Ward gave another late free just inside the ’45. Conor Brennan failed to retreat quickly enough leaving the referee with no choice but to bring it up.
That made it even more kickable. Maher and Murphy had a quick meeting but Murphy backed himself. Unfortunately for him and for Crettyard his touch abandoned him. He had scored nine points up to then but this one never threatened the posts and the final whistle went straight away.
Ballyroan-Abbey are into the winners round, Crettyard into the Qualifiers. They’ll curse themselves for throwing this one away but nobody will fancy meeting them the next day out.
SCORERS – Ballyroan-Abbey: Michael Tierney 1-4 (0-1 free, 0-1 ’45), Diarmuid Whelan 1-4 (0-1 free), Jamie Whelan 0-1. Crettyard Gaels: Cormac Murphy 0-9 (two ’45s, five frees), Evan O’Carroll 0-2 (both frees), Cristoir Maher 0-1, Michael Nash 0-1, Pa Brennan 0-1
BALLYROAN-ABBEY: Andrew Bonham; Mark Cahill, Gavin Tynan, Cian Moffitt; Oisin Carroll, Ruairi Dunne, Conor Brennan; Padraig McMahon, Ciaran Carroll; Colin Kinsella, Mark McDonald, Jamie Whelan; MJ Tierney, Adam Brennan, Diarmuid Whelan. Subs: Eoin Reilly for Kinsella (35 mins), Eoghan Whelan for C Carroll (51 mins), Danny Molloy for J Whelan (58 mins)
CRETTYARD GAELS: Jeff Moran; Pierce Nash, Sean O’Shea, Jason Dunne; Paddy Gorman, Patrick Brennan, Michael Jordan; Patrick O’Reilly, Evan O’Carroll; Cristoir Maher, Sean Downey, Paudge Lalor; Michael Nash, Cormac Murphy, Niall Purcell. Subs: Connor Barry for Dunne (19 mins), James Brennan for Conor Barry (black card – 37 mins), Paul Simms for M Nash (58 mins)
REFEREE: Clifford Ward (Portarlington)