The Harps 1-14 Camross 1-13
Laois Shopping Centre Premier IHC
The Harps got their Premier Intermediate campaign off to a winning start thanks to a hard-earned win over Camross this evening in a gripping battle in Colt.
While Camross probably deserved a draw after coming from eight points down early in the second half – and missed more than their fair share of chances – The Harps really had to dig deep to pull this one out of the fire.
Having underperformed in a series of big games since being relegated from senior in 2016, this was a win they worked hard for, responded well when the pressure was on – and did so with a team that was patched up by the finish after losing a succession of players to injury.
Laois senior Podge Delaney and former county man John Brophy didn’t start, while full-back Pakie Flynn and centre-forward Daniel Comerford were both forced off injured in the opening half, Flynn after just three minutes, in what was his first game back in the club colours having transferred to Dublin club Oliver Plunketts in 2018.
But it was a player that transferred into the club, and playing his first competitive game, that had a big impact over the course of the hour. Former Laois player Philip Russell, who moved from Kilkenny side Galmoy at the start of the season, scored 1-2 from play and is a real good addition.
Camross, for their part, could feel unlucky and perhaps aggrieved that they didn’t at least get a draw out of it.
Fielding a side with nine players who have played in senior county finals in recent years, they put in a powerful second-half performance and dominated for long stretches after the break.
They also missed four good goal chances over the course of the hour and while they’ll be disappointed with a second championship loss in consecutive days, they still look a good bet to get out of this group and no team in this grade would fancy playing, if they keep this team together.
While Camross took the lead early on with a point from the very lively Darren Drennan, The Harps were 0-9 to 0-3 up at the break – seven of their points coming from Michael Lanigan placed balls and two points from play from Russell.
Drennan hit two points for Camross in that opening period with Tomas Burke getting the other after a lovely pass from Niall Holmes.
Yet despite the six-point gap, you could tell there wasn’t much between the teams.
Russell got a great goal early in the second half to put The Harps 1-9 to 0-4 ahead but they then died out of the game completely as Camross took over.
Darren Gilmartin got two points in a row and then David Mortimer pounced for a well-taken goal.
Drennan, who was growing well into the game, then added two points in quick succession and while the Water Break seemed to break their momentum, Colin Palmer struck for a lovely point almost straight away on the resumption.
Big Pat Walsh, who was very effective after coming on, struck for a much-needed point for The Harps and then Lanigan hit a free to put three in it again.
But Camross scored the next three points – two from Drennan and one from Mortimer – to be level entering the last five minutes.
But The Harps showed the stomach for the battle and cool heads when it was needed. A Lanigan ’65, after a stunning Tadhg Doran save on Shane Fitzpatrick, nudged them ahead and then Ciaran Comerford pointed from distance to extend the lead.
A Gilmartin free reduced the gap but Conor Dunne hit an inspirational score after great work from Eoin Clancy and though Gilmartin got a free to leave one it again, Camross wasted a couple of chances and The Harps hung on to get a much-needed win.
With only two teams to come out of the four-team group, The Harps have put themselves in a strong position now to reach the semi-final.
They will play Clonaslee in Round 2 in two weeks time while Camross will be looking to get one over on neighbours Mountrath.
SCORERS – The Harps: Michael Lanigan 0-9 (seven frees, two ’65s), Philip Russell 1-2, Pat Walsh 0-1, Conor Dunne 0-1, Ciaran Comerford 0-1. Camross: Darren Drennan 0-6, Darren Gilmartin 0-4 (two frees), David Mortimer 1-1, Tomas Burke 0-1, Colin Palmer 0-1
THE HARPS: Peter Walsh; David Doheny, Pakie Flynn, Gavin Dunne; Pauric Dunne, Conor Dunne, Fionn Whelan; Ciaran Comerford, Barry Dunne; Michael Lanigan, Daniel Comerford, Ciaran Burke; Philip Russell, Eoin Clancy, Shane Fitzpatrick. Subs: Ronan Delahunty for Flynn (injured – 3), Pat Walsh for D Comerford (injured – 24), Evan Deegan for Fitzpatrick (injured – 36), Fitzpatrick for Delahunty (injured – 46)
CAMROSS: Tadhg Doran; Cian Delaney, Martin Burke, Michael Phelan; Darragh Duggan, Robert Tyrell, Craig Delaney; Colin Palmer, Matthew Collier; Darren Gilmartin, Mossy Burke, Odhran Phelan; David Mortimer, Darren Drennan, Niall Holmes
REFEREE: Padraig Dunne (Colt)