Camross 2-23 Abbeyleix 1-16
Laois SHC Round 3
Is there a team in the county you’d less prefer to face when it’s a backs-to-the-wall, must-win championship game than Camross?
With their championship season on the line and with a relegation playoff hanging over them, they duly delivered their best performance of the year.
Indeed it’s hard to think of a better Camross display since they last won the championship back in 2018.
After two poor outings against Rathdowney-Errill and Borris-Kilcotton, Camross got their act together here.
They changed the spine of their team completely, brought in three new starters and played with a tempo and energy that wasn’t evident up to now.
In the end Zane Keenan finished with 1-12, Camross won by 10 points and nobody will fancy them in the knockout stages.
Abbeyleix started well and were 0-4 to 0-1 up after eight minutes but a well-taken goal from Mark Dowling – back playing in the full-forward line and a threat throughout – levelled things up.
Aaron Brennan immediately responded with a free but Camross hit back with four excellent points from play – two from Darren Gilmartin and one each from Zane Keenan and David Mortimer – helped them to a 1-5 to 0-6 lead at water break.
And Camross got the first four scores after the break too – three of them from Keenan and one from Dowling.
Abbeyleix needed something to stop the rot at this stage and though Enda Rowland pointed a monstrous free, Camross soon had their second goal.
Mark Dowling was fouled as he went for goal and Keenan duly rifled the penalty past Rowland. That put eight in it and they traded points to the half time whistle as Camross headed in with a 2-12 to 0-10 lead.
It was hard to see them losing from there and if there was any chance of an Abbeyleix revival they needed to take any goal chances that came their way. And they didn’t. Tadhg Doran pulled off a brilliant double save early in the second half and just before the water break, Joe Phelan denied Ciaran Byrne with a last-gasp tackle.
With Zane Keenan clocking up the points and Ciaran Collier and Mark Dowling on target too, Camross led 2-17 to 0-15 at the second water break.
Though Enda Rowland hit a goal from a free (to bring his tally to a scarcely believable 1-5) there was never any doubt in the final quarter with Camross eventually having 10 points to spare at the end.
They now go through to the quarter-final to play the losers of Clough-Ballacolla and Castletown.
Abbeyleix are into the relegation final where they’ll meet the losers of The Harps and Rosenallis.
SCORERS – Camross: Zane Keenan 1-12 (0-7 frees, 1-0 penalty, 0-1 sideline cut), Mark Dowling 1-2, Ciaran Collier 0-3, Darren Gilmartin 0-2, David Mortimer 0-1, Craig Carroll 0-1, Gearoid Burke 0-1 (free), Liam Delaney 0-1 Abbeyleix: Enda Rowland 1-5 (1-0 penalty, 0-5 frees), Aaron Brennan 0-7 (all frees), Ryan Peacock 0-2, Declan Phelan 0-1, Rory McEvoy 0-1
CAMROSS: Tadhg Doran; Dwane Palmer, Andrew Collier, Joe Phelan; Darragh Duggan, Gearoid Burke, Lorcan Burke; Odhran Phelan, Liam Delaney; Ciaran Collier, Zane Keenan, Darren Gilmartin; Mark Dowling, Niall Holmes, David Mortimer. Subs: Andrew Mortimer for Palmer (injured – 27), Eoin Gaughan for Mortomer (38), Darren Drennan for Holmes (44), Craig Carroll for O Phelan (48)
ABBEYLEIX: Enda Rowland; Aaron Carroll, Oisin Carroll, Mark Cahill; Barry Walsh, Cillian McEvoy, Lawson Obular; Fionan Mahony, Liam Delaney; Declan Phelan, Ryan Peacock, Jake Cranny; Stephen Thompson, Aaron Brennan, Ciaran Byrne. Subs: Rory McEvoy for Thompson (HT), Colm Walsh for A Carroll (49)
REFEREE: Padraig Dunne (Colt)