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Walsh the hero as Ballylinan strike in injury time to save themselves and relegate The Heath

Ballylinan's Gary Walsh has suffered a cruciate knee injury and will miss tonight's game against Portarlington
Ballylinan's Gary Walsh

Ballylinan 2-14 The Heath 1-16
Laois SFC Relegation Final

Ballylinan are a Senior team for another year after Gary Walsh struck in the final second of injury time to defeat The Heath.

In a brilliantly entertaining game, The Heath looked to have forced extra time when Conor Booth landed his seventh point in the second minute of injury time.

But Walsh, who was still clearly carrying an injury, kicked the winner off his left foot to end The Heath’s 68 year stay as a senior team.

The Heath made a good start to the game and built up a lead early on.

Conor Booth landed three frees while James Phelan and Robbie Ging also pointed in a bright opening.

Cathail Dunne and Jamie Farrell responded for Ballylinan but they were reduced to 14 before the first water break as the latter was shown a black card.

The Heath led 0-5 to 0-2 at that stage but by the time Farrell returned, the score was 0-5 to 0-3 as Ballylinan managed that period well.

Robbie Ging and Jimmy Nerney pushed The Heath further ahead though but they were rocked in the 25th minute when Ballylinan struck for a goal.

The Heath seemed to be in charge of a kick out but the ball was fumbled and Jamie Farrell kicked a long ball into Andy McEvoy who laid it off to Gary Walsh and he slammed it home.

The Heath response to that set back was good though as Booth took his tally to five and then Robbie Ging added a second.

Alan Farrell brought the half to a close with his first but Ballylinan trailed 0-10 to 1-5 at this stage.

They cut the deficit to one on the resumption as wing back Ciaran Fennessy curled over a lovely effort.

And the game was level after 34 minutes when Alan Farrell charged forward and pointed.

Daithi Carroll and Gary Walsh then traded efforts before Ballylinan struck for their second goal after 40 minutes.

Gary Walsh’s looping shot landed on the crossbar and came back to Kevin Byrne, up from corner back, who showed remarkable composure to beat Joe Walshe from close range.

Just as in the first half, The Heath’s response to the concession of the goal was good as Brian Ging and James Phelan pointed.

But Gary Walsh’s second free left Ballylinan 2-9 to 0-13 ahead at the second water break.

Ballylinan almost had a third goal on the resumption as Alan Farrell played in Cathal Fennessy but Joe Walshe palmed his effort over the bar.

Larry Kealy then stroked one over and Ballylinan led by four with 50 minutes on the clock.

The gap was still that after 53 when Conor Booth and Cathail Dunne traded efforts but we were level three minutes later.

Daithi Carroll clipped over a free and from the next attack, Shane Carroll fed Robbie Ging who punched the ball over Tom Wright’s head and into the net.

Ballylinan struck the front again when the excellent Ciaran Fennessy was fouled and Walsh converted the free.

Three minutes of injury time were signalled and in the second minute of it, Conor Booth nailed his seventh free to tie the game again.

The Heath then went on the attack in search of the winner but lost the ball and with seconds left on the clock, Ballylinan countered with Jamie Farrell finding Gary Walsh who scored from 30 metres off his left boot to win it.

SCORERS – Ballylinan: Gary Walsh 1-4 (three frees), Cathail Dunne 0-2, Larry Kealy 0-2, Alan Farrell 0-2, Jamie Farrell 0-1, Pauric McEvoy 0-1, Ciaran Fennessy 0-1, Cathal Fennessy 0-1 The Heath: Conor Booth 0-7 (all frees), Robbie Ging 1-2, Daithi Carroll 0-2 (one free), James Phelan 0-3, Jimmy Nerney 0-1, Brian Ging 0-1

BALLYLINAN: Tom Wright; Micheal Downey, Cathal Leonard, Kevin Byrne; Robbie Donoher, Pauric McEvoy, Ciaran Fennessy; Alan Farrell, Larry Kealy; Cathail Dunne, Cathal Fennessy, Jamie Farrell; Ciaran Farrell, Gary Walsh, Andy McEvoy. Subs: Richie Ryan for Dunne (55)

THE HEATH: Joe Walshe; Gary Roe, Denis Booth, Mark Dowling; Dylan Kavanagh, Jimmy Nerney, PJ Daly; Robbie Dowling, Liam Kinsella; James Phelan, Brian Ging, Robbie Ging; Aaron Thornton, Daithi Carroll, Conor Booth. Subs: Shane Carroll for R Dowling (45), Cathal Whelan for Thornton (51), Mark Phelan for Kavanagh (53, inj), Gareth O’Brien for Roe (58)

REFEREE: Michael Tarpey (Kilcavan)

SEE ALSO – Check out all the weekend GAA coverage here

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.