Home Sport GAA The Heath into JFC semis after narrow win over Castletown

The Heath into JFC semis after narrow win over Castletown

Seamus Mulhare of The Heath

The Heath 0-5 Castletown 0-4
Laois JFC Quarter-final

The Heath are back in the semi-finals of the Laois JFC after battling to a one-point win over Castletown in atrocious conditions on The Heath on Sunday.

With strong winds and rain battering the players throughout the game, it was a slog just to watch it, never mind try to play a game. While the scoreline was low, both teams deserve great credit for the amount of effort they put into the fixture.

The wind was blowing directly down the field towards the golf course end in The Heath, and while both teams had their turn with the elements at their back, they weren’t as beneficial as you might think. Trying to get passes to stick, keeping hold of the ball and just starting a shot on target were all extremely difficult, no matter which end you were shooting into.

The Heath had the wind in the first half but took a while to settle, and only went ahead in the sixth minute with a good point from 40 yards by Dan Hennessy. Castletown were creating chances at the other end but just couldn’t get the ball over the bar, with a string of efforts falling into the hands of The Heath goalkeeper JP Nerney.

Eoin Delaney added a free for The Heath just before the water break, as they lead 0-2 to 0-0 at the first interval. When play resumed Delaney added another from a free before almost setting up a goal.

He intercepted a poor kickout and put Aaron Thornton through on goal, who in turn did everything right, keeping his shot low to the corner, but Paul Croke got a toe to the ball, turning it onto the post and out for a 45. Goalkeeper JP Nerney came up to take it, and he stroked it between the posts for what proved to be the last score of the half, as The Heath lead 0-4 to 0-0 at the changeover.

Understandbly, neither side spent too long standing around at half time and play quickly resumed. Surprisingly, it was The Heath who opened the scoring. Jake Ratcliffe’s shot hung up in the breeze and dropped about 20 yards from goal, but he won the ball back and set up William Conroy, who pointed.

That would be their last score, and the only score in the game into the wind. Castletown quickly hit back with a brilliant free from the right wing by Ryan Mullaney, but they found it increasingly difficult to create chances against a dogged Heath defence.

When they did get shots away they were often rushed and it made it difficult for them to eat into the lead, although Mullaney hit another point, this one from play, before the second water break.

The Heath were still in a decent position at this stage, leading 0-5 to 0-2, but knew that Castletown would be throwing everything at them in the closing stages. They did just that too, with the majority of the game played in The Heath’s half, but Castletown kept spurning opportunities to get closer.

Ger Reddin eventually popped over a free in the 53rd minute to give them some reward, and he repeated the trick five minutes later to leave his side needing just one more point to at least force extra time.

In a frantic end to the game, Castletown tried to create some clear cut chances but they just couldn’t get close enough to The Heath’s goal, with their best opportunity a Ryan Mullaney shot from nearly 40 yards out. That just tailed wide and from there, The Heath managed to hold on to claim a narrow, hard-fought victory.

SCORERS: The Heath: Eoin Delaney 0-2 (0-1 free), Dan Hennessy 0-1, JP Nerney 0-1 (45), William Conroy 0-1. Castletown: Ryan Mullaney 0-2 (0-1 free), Ger Reddin 0-2 (both frees)

THE HEATH: JP Nerney; David Phelan, James Conroy, James Ryan; Jack Reddy, Luke Hyland, Jordan Ratcliffe; Seamus Mulhare, Shane Booth; Dan Hennessy, William Conroy, Gareth O’Brien; Jake Ratcliffe, Eoin Delaney, Aaron Thornton. Subs: Mark Phelan for Reddy (30+2 mins), Aidan Bergin for Jordan Ratcliffe (41 mins), Donal Bigley for Hennessy (54 mins), Danny Hanlon for Delaney (57 mins), Conor Hyland for Thornton (57 mins).

CASTLETOWN: Paul Croke; Martin Reddin, John Gaughan, Eoin Peters; Brendan Reddin, Evan Cuddy, Dylan Conroy; Shane Phelan, Conor Phelan; Ger Reddin, Ryan Mullaney, Tadgh Cuddy; Joe Phelan, Martin Phelan, Conor Walsh. Subs: Aaron Gaughan for Conroy (half-time)

REFEREE: Eric Ward (Portarlington)

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