Ballyroan-Abbey 5-10 Na Fianna Og 0-6
Midlands Park Hotel Laois MFC semi-final
A ruthless Ballyroan-Abbey cruised to a nineteen point victory over a gutsy Na Fianna Og in this evening’s Minor Football Championship Semi-Final.
The club have now qualified for their third straight final and after a win over Portarlington was followed by defeat to Emo-Courtwood last year, they will be hoping for a second success in the last three years when they face Portlaoise next week.
As the sun went down on a perfect evening for football at the LOETB Centre of Excellence, it was Ballyroan-Abbey who set the tone with a point from full-forward Aaron Brennan just seconds after the throw-in, followed by another by Alan McWey a minute later.
Lee Day got Na Fianna Og off the mark with a pointed free, but they found it very tough to break down the Ballyroan-Abbey defence, with Lawson Obular playing his sweeper role to perfection.
Shaun Fitzpatrick landed a 45 to put Ballyroan-Abbey two in front again, and they raised their first green flag a minute later, when a neat passing move was finished to the net by midfielder Padraig Rafter – who hails from Rathdowney but qualifies for Ballyroan-Abbey as an isolated player.
Centre-back Conor McWey nailed a fine point after an exquisite pass from Davin McEvoy, Colin Dunne responded with a pointed free to keep Na Fianna Og trailing by five at the water break.
Another free from Dunne a few minutes later cut the gap to two, but Ballyroan-Abbey hit back with a point from McEvoy, and his midfield partner Rafter got his and Ballyroan’s second goal after an unfortunate error from Na Fianna Og goalkeeper Josh Kelly.
Dunne converted another free to keep Na Fianna Og in it, but Ballyroan hit back again when Odhran Delaney was pulled down through on goal, referee Eric Ward awarded a penalty to Ballyroan-Abbey. McEvoy’s initial spot kick was saved by Kelly but he buried the rebound, giving Ballyroan a comfortable ten point lead. Day hit his first point from play to leave Ballyroan-Abbey nine ahead at half-time.
Rafter raised his first white flag to put Ballyroan back ten in front, Dunne pointed from another free to bring it back to nine, with Kelly making a superb one-on-one save to deny Darren Mulhall.
But points from Lawson Obular and Munashe Karigomba brought Ballyroan’s advantage to eleven at the second water break.
A free from McEvoy extended their lead to twelve, and substitute Ben McDonald grabbed his side’s fourth goal just seconds after his introduction, followed by another goal shortly after, and a point on the stroke of full-time to give Ballyroan-Abbey a nineteen point win.
SCORERS: Ballyroan-Abbey: Padraig Rafter 2-1, Ben McDonald 2-1, Davin McEvoy 1-2 (1-0 Pen, one free), Shaun Fitzpatrick 0-1 (45), Lawson Obular, Munashe Karigomba, Aaron Brennan and Alan McWey 0-1 each Na Fianna Og: Colin Dunne 0-4 (three frees), Lee Day 0-02 (one free)
BALLYROAN-ABBEY: Conor Collins; Patrick Whelan, Matthew Gibney, Sam Quinn; Shaun Fitzpatrick, Conor McWey, Killian Byrne; Davin McEvoy, Padraig Rafter; Munashe Karigomba, Lawson Obular, Darren Mulhall; Odhran Delaney, Aaron Brennan, Alan McWey SUBS: Ben McDonald for Byrne, Michael O’Connor for Brennan, Colin Byrne for Obular, Liam Cavanagh for Karigomba
NA FIANNA OG: Josh Kelly, Fergus Langton, Michael Wall, Dara Kelly, John Brennan, Josh Devereux, Jamie Conway, Lochlann Kelleher, Aodhan Lowry, Ben Slattery, Colin Dunne, Darragh Kealy, Kodi Dunne, Lee Day, Jonah Kelly SUBS: Shane Giltrap for Kelly (inj), Alex Kenny for Kealy
REFEREE: Eric Ward (Portarlington)