Our latest Down Memory Lane podcast takes on a slightly different format as we take a look back on a specific sporting achievement.
In this case it was the incredible run that Ballyroan Gaels went on in 2006, one that saw the combined football forces of Ballyroan and Abbeyleix win the Laois senior football final.
Ballyroan had last won the championship in 1992 and hadn’t been in a final since 1993. Indeed they’d voluntarily dropped back to the intermediate grade so their ‘Gaels’ arrangement with Abbeyleix could continue.
And in 2006 they enjoyed an incredible season.
It didn’t get off to the most encouraging start, however, as they were beaten in the opening round by a Clonaslee side that hadn’t won a senior championship game in seven years. At that stage Ballyroan Gaels were more concerned about staying up.
However, they beat Emo in their next game to give themselves a chance of a quarter-final place and they duly got the better of Crettyard to go through to the knockout stages.
Waiting for them in the last eight was the reigning champions Stradbally. Ballyroan Gaels needed a late goal from Michael Tierney to draw that game but they won the replay in Timahoe a week later in a game that really saw their season gather momentum.
Stradbally, Portlaoise, St Joseph’s and Portarlington – who had won 14 of the 15 previous championships between them – had all bowed out by this stage, meaning it was to be the most open championship in years.
Arles-Kilcruise, however, had been the only club to have broken through with their 2003 success but they’d only narrowly beaten Ballyroan that season. There was no fear of them in Ballyroan.
They were to need another replay, before they got over the line at the second time of asking. It meant that for the fifth week running, they played championship football. Tiredness, it seems, wasn’t an issue as they beat Arles-Kileen in the final by 0-10 to 0-7.
It led to incredible scenes of joy in O’Moore Park and a homecoming never to forget in Ballyroan that night.
In this podcast, Steven Miller is joined by three members of that team – Gerry Scully, Eoin Kearns and Alan Burnell – as they look back on an unforgettable season.
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