Ballypickas 2-10 Rathdowney-Errill 2-9
Laois Shopping Centre JHC ‘A’ Final
Ballypickas are the Laois junior hurling champions following a thrilling win over Rathdowney-Errill in O’Moore Park this afternoon.
Cillian McEvoy – who only had his suspension lifted during the week following a straight red card in the semi-final win over Castletown – was the hero, scoring the equalising point in the first minute of injury time and then adding the winner three minutes later.
Rathdowney-Errill had had a chance prior to McEvoy’s winner to go in front themselves – but Paddy Whelan, who was Rathdowney-Errill’s top scorer pulled his effort wide.
McEvoy then popped up with a tremendous score from the middle of the field. It capped a remarkable turnaround as Ballypickas had trailed by six points early in the second half.
It rounds off a great season for Ballypickas and comes after it had looked as if their hopes were derailed following McEvoy’s suspension and Liam Lalor’s injury in the semi-final. The long-serving centre-back and captain broke his arm in that game and while he led the team onto the pitch before the game, he was never an option to play.
A Brandon McGinley point from play put Rathdowney-Errill into the lead after less than a minute but Ballypickas’s star man MJ Lalor responded with two nice points in quick succession.
A long spell without a score was then ended when Paddy Whelan levelled things up with a free and then Brian Meehan struck for the game’s first goal when he finished to the net from close range after Colm Ryan’s shot came back off the crossbar.
MJ Lalor responded with a point and though Brandon McGinley popped up with his second from play for Rathdowney-Errill the sides were level again when Lalor saw a free go all the way to the net.
Rathdowney-Errill replied with the next three points – two from Paddy Whelan frees and one from John Delaney – but Ballypickas pulled one back from Matthew Boggan.
Ballypickas got a penalty on the stroke of half time but Lalor’s effort was brilliantly saved by the experienced John Paul Ryan and Rathdowney-Errill led 1-6 to 1-4 at the break.
Another Paddy Whelan free extended Rathdowney-Errill’s lead and they then went six up when McGinley got in for a brilliant goal.
Ballypickas responded well though – Cillian McEvoy and TJ Lalor pointing either side of another Meehan free before full-back Paddy Gorman threw Ballypickas a lifeline. His first effort was saved by John Paul Ryan but he bundled the rebound over the line to leave just two between them.
Shane Bowe nudged Rathdowney-Errill three ahead again but Ballypickas kept pushing on and had the deficit back to a point by the 57th minute, thanks to another Lalor free and one from play from Kieran Bowe which could well have been a goal.
When the occasion called for someone to step up to the plate, young Cillian McEvoy did so in style.
While he wasn’t able to play, Liam Lalor did the honours of accepting the trophy and the joyous Ballypickas celebrations got underway from there.
SCORERS – Ballypickas: MJ Lalor 1-5 (1-2 frees), Cillian McEvoy 0-3, Paddy Gorman 1-0, Matthew Boggan 0-1, Kieran Bowe 0-1 Rathdowney-Errill: Paddy Whelan 0-5 (all frees), Brandon McGinley 1-2, Brian Meehan 1-0, John Delaney 0-1, Shane Bowe 0-1
BALLYPICKAS: Noel Concannon; Brian Lalor, Paddy Gorman, Tim Cass; Eoin McEvoy, Daire McWey, Eimhin Hennessy; Paddy Boggan, Cillian McEvoy; Ger Whelan, MJ Lalor, Kieran Bowe; Jim Leech, Matthew Boggan, Thomas Whelan. Subs: William McDonald for B Lalor (35 mins), Noel Leech for T Whelan (47 mins)
RATHDOWNEY-ERRILL: John Paul Ryan; Niall Delaney, Shaun Meehan, Emmet Kilmartin; Sean Delaney, Darragh Carroll, Ned Brown; Colm Ryan, John Delaney; Paddy Whelan, Shane Bowe, Colm Meehan; Brandon McGinley, Brian Meehan, Conor Madden. Subs: Alan Doyle for C Meehan (54 mins)
REFEREE: JJ Gorman (Clough-Ballacolla)