Brought to you in association with Cllr Tom Mulhall
Annanough 2-5 Park-Ratheniska 0-10
Laois Shopping Centre JFC Semi-final
Annanough and Park-Ratheniska have a long and storied rivalry in Laois club football – from meeting in senior finals in the 1950s, an intermediate final in 1978 and then a whole collection of intermediate championship games over the last 20 years or so.
This evening they met in the junior semi-final under lights in Crettyard and it was Annanough that were the last men standing, coming from behind late on to record a one-point win thanks to two well-taken frees from Damien McCaul, in his first year playing adult football.
It was a game that could have went either way, and there would have been few complaints had it finished a draw. Park had their chances, including a couple in the four minutes of injury time to get an equaliser.
Two goals in the opening 15 minutes – from cousins Fergal and Elliott Scully – laid the foundations for Annanough’s win. In a low-scoring game, goals were always likely to be key.
The first came after just three minutes when Fergal Scully finished well past Brian Kelly after a good run. That came a minute after Killian Horgan had opened the scoring with a nice point from play.
Kieran Delaney instantly got a free back for Park but scores were hard to come by for both teams until Elliott Scully broke the deadlock by tucking away a penalty after Kelly had tripped Donal Miller.
Park had plenty of possession but struggled to make it count, with Rory Stapleton twice making vital interventions. Sean Tynan ended a 20-minute spell without a score for Park when he landed one from distance but McCaul cancelled it out straight away when he showed a fine burst of pace and then popped over the first of his three points.
Podge Dunne landed a free but as the sides headed for the dressing room, Annanough led 2-2 to 0-3.
Kieran Delaney and Horgan (free) swapped points early in the second half but Park then completely took over. Kieran Delaney started the revival and Annanough were then dealt a blow when captain Shane Stapleton was black-carded for a foul on Dunne. The Park midfielder swung over a point from the move from the resulting free and the momentum was with them.
Lively wing-back Jimmy Langton got the next with a nice effort from play before three frees in a row – one from Dunne and two from Kieran Delaney – had Park in the lead for the first time with eight minutes remaining.
But there was time for Annanough to turn things round. Sub James Miller made an impact on his introduction and with his first involvement he sent a nice ball into McCaul who danced around the defence before drawing a foul for a free he calmly slotted over himself.
McCaul slotted over another in the 59th minute, this time after Horgan was fouled.
Park raided a couple of times in search of an equaliser and they had a half goal chance at the finish when Langton put Stephen Knowles through only for him to run into a dead end and out over the line.
For Annanough, the prize is a final place against O’Dempsey’s on the last Saturday in September and a chance to end a 40-year wait without silverware.
SCORERS – Annanough: Damien McCaul 0-3 (two frees), Elliott Scully 1-0 (penalty), Fergal Scully 1-0, Killian Horgan 0-2 (one free). Park-Ratheniska: Kieran Delaney 0-5 (three frees), Padraig Dunne 0-3 (two frees), Jimmy Langton 0-1, Sean Tynan 0-1
ANNANOUGH: Sean Hennessy; Conor Stapleton, Rory Stapleton, Ronan Stapelton; Darren Maher, Marty Stapleton, Johnny Fennelly; Shane Stapleton, John Scully; Fergal Scully, Killian Horgan, Damien McCaul; Elliott Scully, Robert Kinsella, Donal Miller. Subs: Ciaran Hennessy for S Stapleton (Black Card – 41), James Miller for Kinsella (51)
PARK-RATHENISKA: Brian Kelly; Mark G Delany, Martin Kelly, Paul Brennan; Jimmy Langton, Richie Hitchcock, Sean Tierney; Padraig Dunne, Mark Delaney; Stephen Hitchcock, Bryan Flanagan, Paddy Kelly; Darragh Nolan, Sean Tynan, Kieran Delany. Sub: Stephen Knowles for Flanagan (HT)
REFEREE: Pat Moran (Graiguecullen)