Graiguecullen 1-9 Ballylinan 1-6
Laois Shopping Centre SFC Quarter-final
Graiguecullen are into the Laois SFC semi-finals for the third time in four years following a hard-fought win over a Ballylinan side that finished with 13 men in horrific conditions in MW Hire O’Moore Park this afternoon.
A sixth minute goal from Ross Hennessy was a crucial score as despite playing against the elements in the opening half they opened a lead that they would hold for the remainder of the game.
The key battle was always going to be between Ballylinan’s Gary Walsh and Graiguecullen’s Mark Timmons. And with Timmons limiting the influence of his county colleague on a day that was most certainly favouring the backs, it was advantage Graigue.
Walsh and Brian Byrne traded early frees before Hennessy lobbed Podge Walsh for the game’s first goal after six minutes.
Gary Walsh struck back with a fine ’45 and it was 1-1 to 0-2 at the water break.
The returning Shane O’Neill pointed off the outside of his boot to put Graigue three up and then Byrne added another free to stretch that to four.
Cathail Dunne responded with a point from play for Ballylinan when he had slight goal chance but that was soon cancelled out when Chris Hurley pointed from play after getting on the end of a long ball.
But Ballylinan kept in touch and two frees from Walsh had it 1-4 to 0-5 at half time.
Ballylinan had plenty of ball in the early stages of the second half but found it very difficult to convert it to scores and Graigue slowly stretched their lead with Chris Hurley and Luke Alsybury pointing from play and Danny Bolger coming up from the goals to add two frees.
At the water break it was 1-8 to 0-5 and Graigue seemed safe.
Ballylinan threw themselves a lifeline on the restart when veteran John Kealy won a brilliant ball in the square to set Walsh up for a goal.
Ross Hennessy replied with a vital score for Graigue though and it was enough to see them over the line.
Ballylinan pressed everything forward late on but only had a Walsh free to show for their efforts and they went out on a sour note with straight red cards for Jamie Farrell and Gary Walsh in injury time.
SCORERS: Graiguecullen: Ross Hennessy 1-1, Chris Hurley 0-2, Brian Byrne 0-2 (frees), Danny Bolger 0-2 (frees), Luke Alsybury 0-1, Shane O’Neill 0-1. Ballylinan: Gary Walsh 1-5 (0-4 frees, 0-1 ’45), Cathail Dunne 0-1
GRAIGUECULLEN: Danny Bolger; Eoin Alysbury, Mark Timmons, Martin Doyle; Luke Alsybury, Trevor Collins, Bobby Doyle; Jamie Sheehan, Shane O’Neill; Brian Byrne, Ross Alcock, Danny O’Reilly; Chris Hurley, Ross Hennessy, Danny Alsybury. Subs: Paul Muready for O’Neill (45), Shane Alwyard for E Alsybury (57), Michael Hand for D Alsybury (61), James Doogue for Hennessy (62)
BALLYLINAN: Podge Walsh; Ciaran Fennessy, Cathal Leonard, Kevin Byrne; Alan Farrell, Seamus Lacey, Cathal Fennessy; Padraig McEvoy, Jamie Farrell; Ciaran Farrell, Liam Kealy, Larry Kealy; Andy McEvoy, Gary Walsh, Cathail Dunne. Subs: John Kealy for Larry Kealy (45), Robbie Donoher for Liam Kealy (45), Luke Phillips for McEvoy (52), Eric Kenna for C Farrell (59)
SEE ALSO – Find all the LaoisToday podcasts here