Ballyroan-Abbey 3-8 The Heath 1-11
Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 2 Losers
These two clubs have met in a number of big games over the years and this September marks the 25th anniversary of their famous two-game county final in 1993.
That was The Heath’s last senior championship triumph. Indeed it’s the last time they marched behind the band on county final day. That wait goes on – indeed they’ve bigger worries now after ending up in the relegation battle for the second time in three years.
Ballyroan-Abbey were three-point winners here – holding off a Heath comeback after being 13 up early in the second half. They can now look forward to Round 3 of the championship in two weeks time.
Impressive midfielder Shaun Murphy got the scoring underway early on with a long-range point and Diarmuid Whelan doubled their lead soon after.
Evin Keane pulled one back for The Heath but Ballyroan went on to score the next 1-4, the goal a brilliant effort from Scott Conroy just moments after he crashed into Mark Dowling in a bone-crunching blow that required both players to get treatment.
Frees from Whelan and MJ Tierney extended their lead while Marty Scully came up from wing-back and then Whelan added another point from play – although this time it definitely should have been a goal after he got on the end of a great pass from Padraig McMahon and rounded keeper JP Nerney only to blast over with the net gaping.
Daithi Carroll eventually ended The Heath’s long spell without a score when he pointed from play but it was a rare highlight from their attacking play in an opening half that saw them hit 11 wides in total.
And they were made to pay for that wastefulness when MJ Tierney got on the end of a long ball in injury time, held off the very close attentions of Neil Keane and buried a brilliant goal. At half time Ballyroan had a ten-point lead, 2-6 to 0-2.
Chris Bergin got a point for The Heath early in the second half but a Shaun Murphy point followed by a John Rodgers goal – set up by Aaron McEvoy who was just moments on the field as a sub.
The Heath fought back with points from Evin Keane and Ciaran Booth and a well-taken goal from Daithi Carroll – but they had left themselves with too much to do and there was no catching Ballyroan, despite only scoring once after Rodgers’ goal in the 36th minute.
Ballyroan will want to work on that before the next game but at least they’re still in the championship.
The Heath now join Clonaslee Gaels, Ballyfin Gaels and Arles-Killeen in the relegation playoffs.
SCORERS – Ballyroan-Abbey: MJ Tierney 1-1 (0-1 free), Diarmuid Whelan 0-3 (two frees), Scott Conroy 1-0, John Rodgers 1-0, Shaun Murphy 0-2, Ciaran Carroll 0-1, Marty Scully 0-1, The Heath: Daithi Carroll 1-1, Evin Keane 0-4 (two frees), PJ Daly 0-3, Chris Bergin 0-1, Ciaran Booth 0-1, James Phelan 0-1
BALLYROAN-ABBEY: Andrew Bonham; Cian Moffit, Gavin Tynan, Ruairi Dunne; Jamie Whelan, Aaron Carroll, Martin Scully; Shaun Murphy; John Rodgers, Padraig McMahon, Diarmuid Whelan; MJ Tierney, Scott Conroy, Mark McDonald. Subs: Aaron McEvoy for Scully (injured – 34), Tim Bergin for McDonald (47), Scully for Rodgers (53)
THE HEATH: JP Nerney; Alan Whelan, Colin Nestor, Neil Keane; Jimmy Nerney, Ciaran Booth, Mark Dowling; Denis Booth, Shane Forde; Brian Ging, Chris Bergin, Daithi Carroll; Evin Keane, Andrew Booth, Eoin Delaney. Subs: Dylan Kavanagh for Delaney (39), James Phelan for Forde (43), PJ Daly for A Booth (46), Gary Roe-Smith for Nestor (51), Mark Dunne for Bergin (51), Liam Kinsella for Ging (56), Ciaran Booth off (Black Card – 61)
REFEREE: Brendan McCann (Portarlington)