Ballyfin 4-13 Crettyard 1-8
Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 2 Qualifier
Ballyfin are back on track in the Laois SFC after a well-deserved victory over Crettyard in O’Moore Park this evening.
With a bit of class up front an ability to eke out goals at crucial times, they proved far too strong for Crettyard on the day.
The first half could be generously deemed a ‘slow burner’, with only two scores recorded in the opening ten minutes. Crettyard got the first, as Evan O’Carroll teed up the in-rushing Philip Brennan and he blazed over the bar from 12 yards out.
Ballyfin took five minutes to formulate a response, and it came about in unusual circumstances. James Finn’s shot for a point hung up in the breeze, and when it eventually dropped down short of the goal, Matthew Kelly saw it bounce off his chest. Sean Moore collected the loose ball and tried to dink it into the goal, but it was touched over the bar by a Crettyard defender for a point.
Ballyfin had the aid of a significant breeze in the first half but took a while to get to grip with it. When they finally did, they punished Crettyard. Allan and David Connolly pointed in quick succession before a powerful run from James Finn ended with his low shot finding the bottom corner of the net.
James Moore had another goal chance for them soon after, but Matthew Kelly made a brilliant point-blank save to deflect the ball over the bar. Moore then curled over his second point soon after, as Ballyfin moved into a 1-5 to 0-1 lead.
Crettyard were really struggling to make headway against the wind, but looked to have finally hit a bit of form when Evan O’Carroll pointed a free, and he then set up Cristóir Maher for a fine score.
Any momentum those back-to-back scores garnered for them was quickly wiped out, however. A good Ballyfin moved ended with Louis Duff turning onto his left foot in the penalty area and shooting at goal. His shot was saved by Matthew Kelly, but Sean Moore was following up and palmed the rebound to the net.
There was a late consolation for Crettyard with a brilliant point from Cormac Murphy, but at half time Ballyfin were in control, leading 2-5 to 0-4.
With wind advantage for the second half all was not lost for Crettyard, and they showed that in the opening minutes. Evan O’Carroll won a free 45 yards out and floated it over the bar, before making a more meaningful impact moments later.
He expertly fielded a high ball 20 yards from goal, slipped away from a few challenges and nestled the ball in the bottom corner. With two minutes of the second half gone, Crettyard had already reduced the gap to just three points.
Ballyfin responded well to that setback, and settled themselves back into the game with two quick-fire points. James Moore got the first from a free, and he then set up younger brother Sean for a good score from play.
O’Carroll (free) and Dan Molloy then traded scores, leaving five between the teams heading into the final 15 minutes of the game.
Evan O’Carroll notched a 45 for Crettyard to keep their interest in the game, but Ballyfin soon struck the telling blow. A contender for ‘Pass of the Season’ from James Moore saw him cut open the Crettyard defence and set up Jack Priestley on the ends of the area, and he obliged with a powerful finish.
James Moore followed it up with a point moments later, and Ballyfin were on their way to a well-deserved victory. To add insult to injury, they followed it up with a goal in injury time, as Sean Moore punished some sloppy defending to seal the win for his side.
SCORERS – Ballyfin: Sean Moore 2-3 (0-1 free), James Finn 1-0, James Moore 0-5 (0-1 free), Dan Molloy 0-2, Allan Connolly 0-1, David Connolly 0-1, Jack Priestley 1-1. Crettyard: Evan O’Carroll 1-5 (0-3 frees, 0-1 45), Cormac Murphy 0-1, Cristóir Maher 0-1, Philip Brennan 0-1.
BALLYFIN: Robert Foran; Jack Cleary, David Connolly, Allan Connolly; Max Connolly, George Lanham, Ciaran Fingleton; James Finn, James Moore; Nick Cosgrove, Darragh Connolly, Dan Molloy; Sean Moore, Louis Duff, Jack Priestley. Subs: Luke Kerr for Duff (59 mins), Brian Dowling for Cosgrove (60 mins), Barry Roche for Cleary (62 mins)
CRETTYARD: Matthew Kelly; Jason Dunne, Sean O’Shea, Cormac Phelan; Michael Nash, Patrick Brennan, Cristóir Maher; Niall Purcell, Patrick O’Reilly; Philip Brennan, Cormac Murphy, Conor Mulhall; Ciaran Hosey, Evan O’Carroll, Conor Barry. Subs: Shaun O’Reilly for Barry (42 mins), Brian Brennan for Murphy (60 mins), Aran Murphy for Philip Brennan (60 mins)
REFEREE: Brendan McCann (Portarlington)
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