Ballylinan 1-13 Mountmellick Gaels 1-7
Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 1
The Laois SFC had a rare outing outside of O’Moore Park on Sunday evening as Ballylinan and Mountmellick Gaels pitched up in Park-Ratheniska for their opening round clash.
The game had been due to take place at 12noon on Sunday but a funeral in Mountmellick on Sunday morning forced a change so the clubs headed for the slightly novel venue – one of the first time since 2008 that a senior championship game was played somewhere other than the county grounds.
It made for a decent atmosphere with the banter of the supporters more audible for all to pick up on. That always helps. In any case Ballylinan were deserving and impressive winners.
They defended well, got the better of midfield and had a variety of forwards that looked likely to cause damage from open play. Gary Walsh made his first appearance since a knee injury and while he was relatively quiet, Andy McEvoy, Ciaran Farrell and Cathail Dunne all caused serious problems and ended the game with 1-9 from play between them. Maintain that form and get Walsh back to full fitness and they’ll cause problems for lots of defences in this championship.
McEvoy got the first of his four brilliant points after five minutes and although Brendan Reddin replied for Mountmellick, a Walsh free and another McEvoy point put Ballylinan into a lead they would hold for the remainder of the game.
Niall Mullen, the focus of most of Mountmellick’s attacks, pointed frees either side of McEvoy’s third point but that was all they could manage in the opening half.
Cathail Dunne showed great skill to point from play and then Ciaran Farrell combined brilliantly with Pauric McEvoy to fire a brilliant goal past Eoghan Keogh in the 27th minute. Farrell added a point moments later and at half-time Ballylinan led 1-6 to 0-3.
The second half was less than 30 seconds old when McEvoy dropped over his fourth point, another sweet score off his left boot, and Dunne and Walsh (free) had them nine up with still over 25 minutes to play.
Mountmellick rallied with a Mullen free a nice effort from full-back Gearoid Hanrahan and to their credit they refused to give in. Jamie Farrell, who had a fine game in midfield, responded for Ballylinan but Mullen and Brendan Reddin left six in it as the game ticked into the final ten minutes.
Two brilliant points from Ciaran Farrell settled Ballylinan and although sub Mark Grennan got a goal from Mountmellick after a scramble in the square, a Gary Walsh free was the final scoring act of the game.
Ballylinan now have a clash with neighbours St Joseph’s to look forward in winners section of Round 2. Mountmellick await the losers of Arles-Killeen and Portarlington.
SCORERS – Ballylinan: Ciaran Farrell 1-3, Andy McEvoy 0-4, Gary Walsh 0-3 (all frees), Cathail Dunne 0-2, Jamie Farrell 0-1. Mountmellick: Niall Mullen 0-4 (all frees), Mark Grennan 1-0, Ben Reddin 0-2, Gearoid Hanrahan 0-1
BALLYLINAN: Aidan Walsh; Kevin Byrne, Dermot Leonard, Cathal Leonard; Alan Farrell, Richie Ryan, James Redmond; Jame Farrell, Pauric McEvoy; Seamus Lacey, Cathail Dunne, Laurence Kealy; Andy McEvoy, Ciaran Farrell, Gary Walsh. Subs: Robbie Donoher for Kealy (34 mins), John Kealy for P McEvoy (42 mins), Conor Behan for Redmond (Black Card – 45 mins), Eric Kenna for C Leonard (58 mins), Brian Kenna for D Leonard (61 mins), Oisin Leonard for G Walsh (61 mins)
MOUNTMELLICK: Eoghan Keogh; Michael Lawlor, Gearoid Hanrahan, Oisin Morris; Laurence Kenny, Darren Fitzpatrick, Ben Forde; Stephen Lynch, Eoin George; Ben Reddin, Colm Coss, Karl Donoher; Mark Dowling, Niall Mullen, Jason Caffrey. Subs: Mark Grennan for Caffrey (36 mins), James Mullaney for Donoher (Black Card – 37 mins), Ciaran Rochford for Forde (41 mins), Ethan Lawlor for Kenny (41 mins), Darragh Hanlon for Lynch (55 mins), Bernard Rochford for George (Black Card – 61 mins)
REFEREE: Eddie Kinsella (Courtwood)