The Harps 3-18 Abbeyleix 1-14
Laois SHC Relegation Final
Abbeyleix have been relegated from the Laois senior hurling championship after they were beaten by neighbours The Harps in O’Moore Park this evening.
An impressive first half for The Harps laid the foundation for their success as they got their first win of the championship to save their status, only eight weeks after claiming Premier Intermediate honours.
Abbeyleix have been at the top level since winning the Senior ‘A’ in 2013 but despite reaching a couple of semi-finals, they have diced with danger too – and it finally caught up with them here as their loss sends them to the Premier Intermediate grade for 2022.
It brings the curtain down on a season that started so promisingly with a draw with the 2020 finalists Borris-Kilcotton. But losses to Rathdowney-Errill and Camross – when a win would have sent them through to a quarter-final – meant they were in this scrap and it was ultimately a hole they couldn’t get out of.
The Harps played with the wind in the first half and they started with real intent, hitting three points in the opening two minutes.
Podge Delaney was in inspired form at centre-back and hit three points from play in the first half. Michael Lanigan, as ever, was central to their cause on the frees.
At the first water break, The Harps led 0-6 to 0-4 but they made a big move in the second quarter.
James Duggan got a fine point on the restart and then Lanigan hit two frees. Eoghan Fennelly and Enda Rowland (free) hit back but The Harps were beginning to find their stride.
A Lanigan 65 was cancelled out by Aaron Brennan with his first touch – on for the injured Jake Cranny – but from Peter Walsh’s resulting puckout, Eoin Clancy got the game’s first goal. The Harps now had a six-point lead and they were in no mood for sitting back.
Podge Delaney got his third point and Richie Saunders added another. A Fionan Mahony point stopped the rot but Duggan then got in for a great goal and Lanigan added another free. At half time there was 11 points in it, 2-13 to 0-8, and even allowing for the strong breeze, it was a long way back for Abbeyleix.
The Harps would have to do battle without Ciaran Comerford for the second half after he suffered a horrible looking hamstring injury.
The Harps could only get one point in the third quarter but Abbeyleix only got two and there it was 2-14 to 0-10 at the water break.
Abbeyleix got the first two points of the final quarter- from Fionan Mahony and another Fennelly free – but two Richie Saunders points (one a classy sideline cut) and one from Pat Walsh had The Harps 2-17 to 0-12 clear going into the last five minutes.
Enda Rowland did blast a free to the net for Abbeyleix but it was far too late to make a difference as The Harps never looked threatened and the biggest roar of the evening came when Pat Walsh powered through and fired to the net.
Abbeyleix go down. The Harps save their status in the most pleasing fashion imaginable.
SCORERS – The Harps: Michael Lanigan 0-7 (five frees, one ’65), James Duggan 1-1, Eoin Clancy 1-1, Pat Walsh 1-1, Podge Delaney 0-3, Richie Saunders 0-3 (one sideline cut), Ciaran Comerford 0-1, Barry Dunne 0-1 Abbeyleix: Eoghan Fennelly 0-6 (four frees, one ’65), Enda Rowland 1-1 (frees), Fionan Mahony 0-2, Ciaran Byrne 0-1, Jake Cranny 0-1, Aaron Brennan 0-1, Rory McEvoy 0-1,
THE HARPS: Peter Walsh; Daniel Comerford, Conor Dunne, Daniel Doheny; Eoghan Doheny Podge Delaney, Barry Dunne; Padraig Dunne, John Brophy; Richie Saunders, Michael Lanigan, Ciaran Comerford; Pat Walsh, James Duggan, Eoin Clancy. Subs: Cathal Murphy for C Comerford (injured – 30)
ABBEYLEIX: Enda Rowland; Aaron Carroll, Oisin Carroll, Mark Cahill; Lawson Obular, Cillian McEvoy, Barry Walsh; Ryan Peacock, Fionan Mahony; Declan Phelan, Rory McEvoy, Jake Cranny; Ciaran Byrne, Liam Delaney, Eoghan Fennelly. Subs: Aaron Brennan for Cranny (injured – 20), Cathal Doyle for McEvoy (38), Colm Walsh for Phelan (38), Stephen Thompson for Delaney (51)
REFEREE: Patrick Phelan (Castletown)