Slieve Bloom 1-18 Clonad 1-15
Laois Shopping Centre IHC Round 1
Brothers Ben, Gavin and Ciaran Conroy were the difference as Slieve Bloom came from seven points down to defeat Clonad by three in a very entertaining affair in Colt tonight.
The three brothers contributed 1-15 of Slieve Bloom’s final tally.
The victors were well second best in the first half hour but made two switches at half time which ultimately led to their victory.
Ben Conory, who had operated in the full forward line, moved to midfield at the start of the second half and was instrumental as Slieve Bloom sent over eleven unanswered points to turn a seven point deficit into a four point lead.
The other switch was a tactical one. Ben had been somewhat wayward on the frees so he relinquished the duty to younger brother Ciaran and the teenager sent over five of them to lead Slieve Bloom to the win.
While oldest brother Gavin in goal also deserves special mention as he fired over three long range frees and played a big role in the goal that Ben scored.
The game started at a fast pace with Slieve Bloom almost having a goal from the throw in as Ben Conroy raced forward but Colin Delaney did well to deny him.
PJ Daly and Michael Kerr got Clonad off the mark early on but Slieve Bloom kept pace thanks to two from Ben Conroy.
Seoirse Conroy and Shane Cahill regained the lead for Clonad and although Ben Conroy replied with his third, two more from Cahill made it 0-6 to 0-3 at the midpoint of the half.
Ben Conroy and Stephen Phelan replied for Slieve Bloom but they would not score again for 13 minutes as Clonad saw Kerr strike four lovely frees with a brace from the very impressive PJ Daly in between to go well ahead.
Slieve Bloom keeper Gavin Conroy brought the half to an end with a long range free that made it 0-12 to 0-6 at the break – but nobody foresaw what would come next.
Slieve Bloom introduced Robbie Burke at half time and he went into midfield alongside Ben Conroy who fired over from the restart.
Keeper Gavin Conroy hit another before substitute Robbie Burke cut the deficit to three from long range.
It was here that the youngest of the Conroy’s, Ciaran, came into his own. Ben set him up to score from play before he landed three consecutive frees to give Slieve Bloom the lead for the first time after 46 minutes.
Ben Conroy then reeled off two more points before Gavin Conroy landed his third free to make it 0-16 to 0-12.
Clonad had gone over 20 minutes without a score now but they finally ended their drought when Dean Delaney was fouled and Michael Kerr pointed.
But that was brief respite for Clonad as Slieve Bloom soon had the game’s first goal. Gavin Conroy’s free was flicked on by Paul Heffernan into the path of Ben Conroy who smashed home from close range.
Ciaran Conroy and John Noonan then traded traded points as, in fairness to Clonad who were now six points down, they didn’t give up.
They were rewarded for their perseverance when a John Burke goal after a Ray Killeen point cut the margin to two points with two minutes of injury time to be played.
But Slieve Bloom would not be denied and Ciaran Conroy sent over a late free to seal a three point win.
Slieve Bloom now advance to the winners section of the draw while Clonad enter the losers part knowing that one more defeat will leave them in the relegation final.
SCORERS – Slieve Bloom: Ben Conroy 1-7 (two frees), Ciaran Conroy 0-6 (five frees), Gavin Conroy 0-3 (all frees), Robbie Burke and Stephen Phelan 0-1 Clonad: Micheal Kerr 0-6 (all frees), John Burke 1-0, PJ Daly and Shane Cahill (two frees) 0-3 each, Seoirse Conroy, Ray Killeen and John Noonan 0-1 each
Slieve Bloom: Gavin Conroy; Fergal Burke, Tom Delaney, Enda Conroy; Shane Farrell, James Tobin, John Lowry; Glen Tobin, Taidhg Cuddy; Darragh Delaney, JP Campion, Stephen Phelan; Ciaran Conroy, Martin Delaney, Ben Conroy. Subs: Robbie Burke for G Tobin and Paul Heffernan for JP Campion (both half Time), Ross Holmes for Heffernan (55m), James Delaney for M Delaney (58m)
Clonad: Colin Delaney: Peter Ging, Seán Egan, James Ging; John Noonan, Gary Hogan, Emmett Ging; Paul Ging, Dean Delaney; PJ Daly, Ray Killeen, Michael Kerr; Gareth O’Brien Seorise Conroy, Shane Cahill. Subs: Joe McEvoy for O’Brien (35m), Denis Sheeran for McEvoy (55m), John Burke for Conroy (57m)
Referee: Ronan Devaney (Camross)