Arles-Kilcruise 2-12 Mountmellick Gaels 1-13
Laois Shopping Centre Senior Football Championship Relegation Final
What a finish! Not since Jody Dillon’s strike against Portlaoise last year have we witnessed a more dramatic conclusion to a football match in Laois.
Arles-Kilcruise were dead and buried with the game in the fourth minute of second half injury time.
They were down to 14 men and trailed by two points when they were awarded a penalty which Ross Munnelly scored.
The same player added a free before the end and incredibly, the Arles men were safe for another year.
You’d have to feel for Mountmellick. The least they deserved was probably a draw and to lose it the way they did will certainly haunt them for time to come.
Kilcruise got off to a brilliant start when Caomhan Brennan popped up from wing back to kick the first point before Chris Conway picked out younger brother David who shot low to beat Eoghan Keogh.
But credit to Mountmellick who responded brilliantly with Karl Donoher, Colm Coss and Brendan Reddin all pointing before they grabbed their only goal.
Colm Coss glided through the Kilcruise defence and found Brendan Reddin who popped the ball over to Mark Grennan and he finished to the net from close range.
Ross Munnelly hit back with a free but the Gaels landed the next four points via Niall Mullen (2), Bernard Rochford and Reddin to go 1-7 to 1-2 up by the midpoint of the half.
Ross Munnelly and Fran Egan tried to get Kilcruise back into it but with Colm Coss winning everything from midfield, Mountmellick kept five clear thanks to Mullen and Mark Grennan.
But Kilcruise did manage to get on top in the final five minutes of the half and slotted four successive points.
Ross Munnelly notched three of those with Dermot Nolan slotting the other to cut the deficit to one and leave the score reading 1-9 to 1-8 at half time.
The scoring slowed down considerably on the resumption of play.
Mountmellick struggled to get the ball into Kilcruise’s half while the men in maroon fired a load of wides thanks to a mix a poor shooting and bad shot selection.
Niall Mullen and Ross Munnelly traded points early on and the same Mountmellick player plus David Conway did the same to leave one between them as we entered the final quarter.
David Conway levelled the game in the 53rd minute but Niall Mullen went straight down the other end and kicked a quickfire brace to put Mountmellick ahead once more.
Kilcruise were then reduced to 14 men when Kevin Meaney was shown a straight red card for an off the ball incident and it seemed they were heading down.
However, in the fourth minute of injury time, a high ball eventually came to Kilcruise substitute Ciarán Lawlor and referee Brendan McCann adjudged he was fouled when shooting and signalled for a penalty.
Ross Munnelly stepped up and blasted past Eoghan Keogh to put his side a point ahead.
Mountmellick had chances to create the score they needed to force extra time but their final pass let them down and Munnelly took his tally to 1-8 with a late point to seal an incredible win.
SCORERS – ARLES-KILCRUISE: Ross Munnelly 1-8 (1-0 pen, 0-5 frees), David Conway 1-1, Fran Egan, Dermot Nolan and Caomhan Brennan 0-1 each MOUNTMELLICK GAELS: Niall Mullen 0-7 (0-5 frees), Mark Grennan 1-1, Brendan Reddin 0-2, Colm Coss 0-1, Karl Donoher and Bernard Rochford 0-1 each
ARLES-KILCRUISE: Ken Kealy; Anthony McElroy, Sean Meaney, Padge Conway; Cialann Mulhall, Colm Munnelly, Caomhan Brennan; Kevin Meaney, Dermot Nolan; Ross Munnelly, Fran Egan, Mikey Wall; Brendan Conway, David Conway, Chris Conway. Subs: JP Conway for B Conway (46mins, black card), Mark Wall for McElroy (52mins), Ciarán Lawlor for Nolan (59mins), Jason McLaughlin for D Conway (60mins, black card)
MOUNTMELLICK GAELS: Eoghan Keogh; Ben Forde, Gearoid Hanrahan, Darren Fitzpatrick; Ethan Lawlor, Eoin George, Mick Lawlor; Colm Coss, Stephen Lynch; Mark Dowling, Brendan Reddin, Karl Donoher; Niall Mullen, Mark Grennan, Bernard Rochford. Subs: James Mullaney for Donoher (ht), Darragh Hanlon for Lynch (41mins), Jason Caffrey for Rochford (45mins), Laurence Kenny for M Lawlor (50mins)
Referee: Brendan McCann (Portarlington)
SEE ALSO – All of Friday evening’s Laois GAA results