Crettyard Gaels 1-12 Clonaslee Gaels 1-9
Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 2 Qualifier
The Sunday morning battle of the Gaels went the way of the Crettyard-Spink combination as a first-half goal from Cormac Murphy proved to be the game’s key score.
It means that Sammy Kelly’s side, semi-finalists last year, are back in the championship race while Clonaslee are in the relegation playoffs for the second year running.
Crettyard Gaels had lost to Ballyroan-Abbey in the opening round, but it was a game they could well have won. Clonaslee Gaels, with the input of a number of Annanough players, had competed relatively well against St Joseph’s before eventually trailing off. In a big blow to their hopes though, Donal Miller and Rory Stapleton were ruled out before the start, both having picked up injuries in Annanough’s to Timahoe in the IFC on Friday night.
Early points from Evan O’Carroll (free) and Cristoir Maher had Crettyard two up but the sides were level by the tenth minute, following two Glen McEvoy frees. A wonderful point from Cormac Murphy restored Crettyard’s lead and then the same player struck for the game’s first goal, brilliantly winning a long ball before beating his man and the finishing smartly past Conor Gorman.
McEvoy responded with a free but a Murphy free, and a punched effort from Pa O’Reilly at the opposite end, pushed Crettyard five clear. Clonaslee stuck at it and an excellent long-range free from Glen McEvoy narrowed the gap as the first half entered injury time only for Michael Nash to respond straight away win a point from play.
But the last score of the half would go to Clonaslee Gaels, Marty Stapleton getting their first point from play after a brilliant run and a one-two with his Annanough clubman James Miller.
Clonaslee would make a right good game of it in the second half.
John Scully got the first score of the half for Clonaslee after a well-worked buildup. Murphy replied for Cretty before Willie Young hit back again for Clonaslee. And Clonaslee were level in the 40th minute when Conor Gorman buried a penalty, awarded after Gearoid Carroll was bundled over by Paddy Gorman.
Clonaslee’s dander was up and although Evan O’Carroll put Crettyard back in the lead, the sides were level again when Glen McEvoy popped over his fifth free of the day.
Murphy nudged Crettyard ahead again with a free but Darren Hogan cancelled it out and after McEvoy uncharacteristically missed a free, Crettyard got the next three scores, the first a free from outside the ’45 by O’Carroll, the second another great effort from Murphy and then a Murphy free.
It all meant Clonaslee would need another goal. It didn’t come.
They now have a relegation semi-final in two weeks against Stradbally or the losers of Mountmellick-Arles-Killeen and Killeshin-Arles-Kilcruise.
SCORERS – Crettyard Gaels: Cormac Murphy 1-6 (0-3 frees), Evan O’Carroll 0-3 (two free), Pa O’Reilly 0-1, Cristoir Maher 0-1, Michael Nash 0-1. Clonaslee Gaels: Glen McEvoy 0-5 (frees), Conor Gorman 1-0 (penalty), Marty Stapleton 0-1, John Scully 0-1, Willie Young 0-1, Darren Hogan 0-1
CRETTYARD GAELS: Jeff Moran; Paddy Gorman, Sean O’Shea, Niall Purcell; Michael Jordan, Pa Brennan, Pierce Nash; Pa O’Reilly, Sean Downey; Paudge Lalor, Evan O’Carroll, Cristoir Maher; Michael Nash, Cormac Murphy, Shaun O’Reilly. Subs: James Brennan for S O’Reilly (40 mins), Paul Simms for P Nash (50 mins), William Fitzpatrick for M Nash (60 mins)
CLONASLEE GAELS: Conor Gorman; Willie Murray, Ger Reilly, Mark McEvoy; John Rigney, Willie Young, Marty Stapleton; John Scully, Seamus Rosney; Elliott Scully, Glenn McEvoy, Ger Dunne; Gearoid Carroll, Darren Hogan, James Miller. Subs: Sean Condon for E Scully (half-time), Shane Stapleton for Rosney (37 mins), Niall Hogan for Carroll (49 mins)
REFEREE: David Moore (St Joseph’s)