The Heath 1-16 Crettyard 1-8
Laois Shopping Centre SFC Relegation Final
The Heath have secured their SFC status for 2020 after a deserved eight point win over Crettyard in Stradbally tonight.
A good crowd turned out to see which of this year’s SFC crop would drop to the IFC, and The Heath ensured it wouldn’t be them thanks in large part to a blistering start to the second half.
During that period James Phelan’s goal, The Heath’s first in the championship this year, saw them open up an eleven point lead and they were comfortable from there to the final whistle. Chris Bergin also proved to be a key man once again, with the veteran forward finishing the game with 0-10.
Crettyard got off to a bright start, as Evan O’Carroll won the ball from the throw in and took off on one of his customary attacking runs. He was hauled down 35 yards out, and duly popped over the free for the opening score of the game.
The Heath had opted for an extra man in defence, with Alan Whelan playing as a sweeper in front of O’Carroll to try to limit his influence. They took a few minutes to settle but eventually got on the scoreboard in the sixth minute, with a point from Jimmy Nerney. Cormac Murphy quickly restored the Crettyard lead with a nice point from play, but a close-range Chris Bergin free tied the scores at 0-2 each after eight minutes.
The Heath got their noses in front for the first time after that, and they would manage to hold that advantage all the way to half time. Bergin hit a quick-fire double, one from play and one from a free, to give them a two-point lead.
Patrick Brennan struck a fine score in response for Crettyard, but another point from Bergin, from a free, kept the black and amber ahead. Scores were hard earned in this period of the game, and both sides managed just two each over the next ten minutes. Brian Brennan and Evan O’Carroll pointed two frees for Crettyard, while Robbie Ging kicked two excellent scores from play for The Heath.
The Heath then finished out the half strongly to push further ahead. Andrew Booth, on a sub for PJ Daly, landed a lovely score from out on the left wing and then, in injury time, James Phelan’s effort just about landed over the crossbar to see The Heath lead 0-9 to 0-5 at the interval.
The winning of the game for The Heath came in the opening fifteen minutes of the second half, as they rattled off 1-4 without reply. Crettyard moved Evan O’Carroll out to midfield to try and get him into the game, but it robbed them of a threat inside and The Heath made the most of that imbalance.
Chris Bergin got them up and running for the second half with a couple of frees, and then came the crucial score. James Phelan won the ball 30 yards from goal and slipped away from his marker, leaving himself one-on-one with Matthew Kelly. He kept his cool to roll a shot into the bottom keft corner, and they were now nine points ahead.
Nine quickly became ten with a point from Andrew Booth, and then another Bergin point, this time from play, had them in cruise control.
Patrick Brennan hit Crettyard’s first score of the half in the 46th minute, but Bergin soon cancelled that out with a super score from the right wing. If Crettyard needed further proof it wasn’t there night, they got it after that Bergin score.
Patrick Brennan was played straight through on goal, and hit shot beat Joseph Walshe in The Heath goal, but hit the bar and bounced out. The Heath worked the ball up the field and ended the move with a brilliant point from Andrew Booth.
Crettyard did threaten a late comeback when Evan O’Carroll rifled a left-footed shot to the top corner of the net in the 53rd minute, but it proved to be a false dawn as The Heath shut up shop and ran out deserving winners in the end.
SCORERS – The Heath: Chris Bergin 0-10 (0-7 frees), Andrew Booth 0-3, James Phelan 1-0, Robbie Ging 0-2, Jimmy Nerney 0-1. Crettyard: Evan O’Carroll 1-4 (0-4 frees), Patrick Brennan 0-2, Brian Brennan (free), Cormac Murphy 0-1 each.
THE HEATH: Joseph Walshe; Neil Keane, Denis Booth, Dylan Kavanagh; Mark Dowling, Ciaran Booth, Aiden Bergin; Shane Forde, Jimmy Nerney; Robbie Ging, Brian Ging, James Phelan; Alan Whelan, Chris Bergin, PJ Daly. Subs: Andrew Booth for Daly (25 mins, BC), Gary Roe Smith for R Ging (57 mins), Liam Kinsella for Phelan (57 mins)
CRETTYARD: Matthew Kelly; Jason Dunne, Sean O’Shea, Cormac Phelan; Conor Mulhall, Niall Purcell, Ciaran Hosey; Patrick O’Reilly, Conor Barry; Patrick Brennan, Cormac Murphy, Michael Jordan; Cristóir Maher, Evan O’Carroll, Brian Brennan. Subs: Philip Brennan for B Brennan (30 mins), Mark Lyons for Barry (40 mins), Seamus Dowling for Patrick Brennan (53 mins, BC), James Kelly for Dunne (53 mins)
Referee: Clifford Ward (Portarlington)
SEE ALSO – Check out all the Laois SFC coverage here