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Late Whelan goal seals dramatic win for Ballyroan Abbey over St Joseph’s in Laois SFC opener

Diarmuid Whelan

Ballyroan-Abbey 1-9 St Joseph’s 0-11
Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 1

A dramatic late goal from Diarmuid Whelan saw Ballyroan Abbey claim a one-point win over a stunned St Joseph’s in their Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 1 clash in O’Moore Park tonight.

Whelan got the vital touch to a Charlie Whelan long ball in the 65th minute of the game to leave St Joseph’s shell-shocked at the final whistle. James Smith’s point just a minute earlier to put them two ahead looked to be the clinching score, but Ballyroan Abbey managed one last surge forward, and they duly got the score they needed to claim the win.

The game started at a sprightly enough pace, as the opening score came with a little over two minutes on the clock. The honour of registering the first point of the Laois SFC for 2020 fell to John Rogers, who found himself in space 25 yards out and he duly slotted over the bar for Ballyroan Abbey.

St Joseph’s wasted little time in restoring parity as Josh Lacey managed to thread a shot between the posts from a tight angle. Ballyroan Abbey went back in front thanks to a fine score from Diarmuid Whelan, who managed to get a shot away despite being under pressure 35 yards out.

Again, the St Joseph’s response same swiftly, as Dylan Doyle put the finishing touches to a nicely worked move to level the scores at 0-2 each after eight minutes. During that spell Brian Daly had also seen a couple of frees slip past the right upright.

We had to wait another 15 minutes for another score, as both teams took a while to find their second wind. Neither could create much in the way of clear-cut chances and it was left to St Joseph’s to finally end the drought, as Josh O’Brien set up Josh Lacey for his second point of the half.

Ballyroan Abbey were struggling to make an impact at the other end, and didn’t respond until the final minute of normal time before the break. Shaun Murphy got up from wing back to round off a good move with a point from the left wing.

Less than a minute later they were back in front, as Jamie Whelan was left unmarked 30 yards out to pop one over, and that would be the final score of the half. It left Ballyroan Abbey marginally ahead, 0-4 to 0-3, at the interval.

The second half continued in much the same trend as the first, with scores at a premium. Josh O’Brien got the first point of the half with a lovely effort from the right wing, as he dummied past his marker and slotted over. Dylan Doyle then won a mark and pointed from 21 yards out, as the Kellyville men went back in front.

The lead didn’t last long though, as Diarmuid Whelan hit back with a free for Ballyroan Abbey, but they would be their only score before the water break.

St Joseph’s eventually started to build some momentum, and Dylan Doyle saw them back in front with his third point of the game, as he swung over a lovely score off his left foot. A little over a minute later Josh O’Brien got his second, and St Joseph’s were now two ahead, the biggest lead of the game, as both teams headed for the water break.

The closing fifteen minutes were by far the most entertaining, as scores started to come a bit more readily. Joseph’s went three clear when Dylan Doyle got his fourth of the game from another mark, but Diarmuid Whelan would respond for Ballyroan Abbey with a pointed free.

Josh O’Brien made it a hat-trick of points for him as he restored St Joseph’s advantage, but Ballyroan Abbey came back strongly. Whelan landed another free and then sub Enda McWey cut in from the right wing to narrow the lead to just one with five minutes to go.

St Joseph’s pushed that back to two as Josh O’Brien took over freetaking duties and calmly curled one over, despite slipping in the process. Ballyroan Abbey kept plugging away though, and another free from Whelan pared the lead down to the minimum once more in added time.

However, their race looked to be run when James Smith launched over a lovely point from distance, but there was one last act left in this drama. Ballyroan Abbey came forward one last time and worked the ball to Charlie Whelan on the right wing, and his perfectly floated ball to the edge of the square was attacked by Diarmuid Whelan who forced it over the line for a dramatic win, as the final whistle sounded seconds later.

SCORERS – Ballyroan-Abbey: Diarmuid Whelan 1-5 (0-4 frees), Enda McWey, John Rogers, Jamie Whelan, Shaun Murphy 0-1 each. St Joseph’s: Josh O’Brien 0-4 (0-1 free), Dylan Doyle 0-4 (0-2 marks), Josh Lacey 0-2, James Smith 0-1.

BALLYROAN-ABBEY:Andrew Bonham; Danny Brennan, Gavin Tynan, Aaron McEvoy; Adam Dunne, Ruairi Dunne, Shaun Murphy; Cathal Doyle, Michael Brennan; Aaron Carroll, Jamie Whelan, Colm Walsh; Paudi McDonald, John Rogers, Diarmuid Whelan. Subs: Charlie Whelan for Walsh (36 mins), Enda McWey for Rogers (36 mins), Marty Scully for M Brennan (46 mins), Ciaran Byrne for A McEvoy (59 mins), Brian Whelan for Doyle (59 mins)

ST JOSEPH’S: Aaron Cooney; Tom Dunne, James Kelly, Lir McDonald; Adam Campion, Jack Lacey, Colin Campion; James Smith, Brian Daly; Dean Brophy, Dylan Doyle, Mikie Dempsey; Josh Lacey, Peter Kealy, Josh O’Brien. Subs: Micheal Keogh for Kealy (44 mins), Seamus Farrelly for Josh Lacey (59 mins), Aidan Brennan for C Campion (59 mins)

REFEREE: Michael Tarpey (Kilcavan)

SEE ALSO – Talking Sport Podcast: Listen to LaoisToday preview of the Laois football championships

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