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Booth on target as The Heath get the better of neighbours Emo in league opener

Laois GAA

The Heath 2-13 Emo 0-10
ACFL Division 1B

The Heath began their 2021 season in fine style with a comprehensive victory over 2020 semi-finalists Emo on Saturday night.

For a team still waiting to play their delayed SFC semi-final, this will have been a worrying performance for Emo, who were wasteful early on and overrun in the final quarter.

The Heath were far more clinical, Andrew Booth poaching two excellent goals in the first half to put them ahead, and they managed the game well from there. They defended well and strung some lovely moves together in attack, with Liam Kinsella impressing in the middle of the field also.

Emo will console themselves with the fact they were missing five of the team which Portlaoise in last years semi-final, but it will still have been a rude awakening for them ahead of that crunch game with Graiguecullen.

The game itself was a slow burner, with no score in the opening ten minutes. Emo were probably shading the early exchanges, in terms of creating chances at least, but they hit some really poor wides.

The Heath eventually opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Brian Ging’s left-footed effort split the posts. That set them on their way, with a poor pass across the full-back line from Emo allowing Robbie Ging to double The Heath’s lead.

A two point lead quickly became three when Liam Kinsella’s huge hand-pass, all of 25 yards, put Robbie Ging in for his second point, with the opening goal of the game arriving soon after. An incisive move from The Heath ended with Andrew Booth through on goal, and he deft finish evaded Niall Gorman for a fine goal.

Emo eventually opened their account in the 20th minute with a Paul Lawlor point from a tight angle, and after missing a litany of chances, they added two more points in two minutes from Shane Murphy and James Hilliard (mark) to leave the goal in it.

Andrew Booth pointed in reply for The Heath but three more Emo points, from Ross Meredith, Darren Strong and Paul Lawlor (free), left just one between them as normal time in the first half elapsed.

The time that remained belonged to The Heath though. Conor Booth curled over a free before a brilliant ball over the top from Brian Ging set Andrew Booth up, and he lobbed the keeper from 20 yards for another superb goal. Darren Strong got a point back for Emo, but The Heath were 2-5 to 0-7 up at the changeover.

Emo reshuffled things for the second half and Padraig Kirwan, moved from wing-back to wing-forward, fisted over an early point put three in it. Conor Booth and Paul Lawlor swapped pointed frees after that, but the remainder of the game was controlled by The Heath.

They hit seven points without reply to leave Emo trailing in their wake, starting with a good score from Andrew Booth. James Phelan added a mark and Booth then brought hit tally to 2-3 as Emo struggled to make inroads at the other end.

Robbie Ging, Liam Kinsella, Andrew Booth and Conor Booth (free) all added scores before a late consolation from Darren Strong for Emo. The were worthy winners on the night and will take great confidence from this, while Emo will know they have much to do to get back to heights they reached last year.

SCORERS – The Heath: Andrew Booth 2-4, Robbie Ging 0-3, Conor Booth 0-3 (frees), Liam Kinsella 0-1, James Phelan 0-1 (mark), Brian Ging 0-1. Emo: Darren Stron 0-3 (0-1 free), Paul Lawlor 0-3 (0-2 frees), James Hilliard 0-1 (mark), Ross Meredith 0-1, Shane Murphy 0-1, Padraig Kirwan 0-1.

THE HEATH: Joe Walshe; Dylan Kavanagh, Mark Dowling, Alan Whelan; Jimmy Nerney, Denis Booth, Robbie Dowling; PJ Daly, Liam Kinsella; Neil Keane, Conor Booth, James Phelan; Robbie Ging, Andrew Booth, Brian Ging. Subs: Gary Roe Smith for PJ Daly (36 mins, inj), Jake Ratcliffe for R Ging (55 mins), Dan Daly for R Dowling (61 mins), Shane Booth for A Booth (63 mins)

EMO: Niall Gorman; Liam Crowley, James O’Rourke, Jack Sethright; Eibhan Joyce, Shane Murphy, Padraig Kirwan; Brian Gorman, Steven Norton; Ross Meredith, Darren Strong, Cian Langford; Paul Lawlor, James Hilliard, David Gorman. Subs: Tom Fennelly for Meredith (half time), Paddy Dunne for Joyce (50 mins), Tommy Keegan for Langford (56 mins).

REFEREE: Joe Brennan (Crettyard)

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