The Heath 1-7
By Denis J. Croke
THE Heath, touted by many as the main challengers to Portlaoise this year, suffered a shock defeat at the hands on Mountmellick on Saturday. And this was victory thoroughly by the lads in blue because from start to finish they dominated the game.
That said they held just a two point lead at half time, and The Heath had every opportunity to turn that about.
Evin Keane and Darragh Halon exchanged early points but three on the trot from Niall Mullin, Hanlon and Jason Caffery opened up a gap by the end of the first quarter.
This period was very staid with little to encourage the crowd. The gap was back to one after points from Denis Booth and Keane but in the dying minutes of the half Mullin converted two frees to Keane’s won ensuring Mountmellick went into the break leading 0-6 to 0-4.
It was expected The Heath would up their game greatly on the restart but instead it was Mountmellick who upped the pace, and their direct play had the losers in all sorts of problems.
They quickly extended their lead with two frees from Mullin and David Kelly from play.
Any hope The Heath may have harboured of a recovery were quashed ten minutes into the new half. As Hanlon charged towards goal he was fouled by Gary Roe Smith and the referee was left with little option but award a penalty and Caffery stroked it to the bottom right hand corner.
Substitute Cathal Whelan converted a free for The Heath, who had been hampered by Chris Bergin’s absence through injury. He was introduced shortly after half time and showed just how important he is to the side. He went on to land two free and a goal in the 59th minute but it was to be to no avail as Mountmellick were out of sight at that stage.
Hanlon and Mullin had added points before The Heath, Joe Walsh keeper denied Brendan Reddin a goal with a brilliant save, at the expense of a point.
Mark Grennan rounded off the scoring for Mountmellick in the 54th minute when he reacted quickly when his shot was blocked to hit the rebound to the net.
MOUNTMELLICK: Eoin Keogh; Ethan Lawlor, Oisin Morris, Gearoid Hanrahan; Laurence Kenny, Darren Fitzpatrick, Brendan Reddin (0-1); Colm Coss, Jimmy Hilliard; David Kelly (0-1), Niall Mullin (0-6f), Mark Grennan (1-0); Jason Caffery (1-1), Mark Dowling, Darragh Hanlon (0-3).
Subs: Karol Donaher for Reddin (56m), Ciaran Rochford for Hanlon (59m)
THE HEATH: Joe Walshe; Mark Dowling, Denis Booth (0-1), Gary Roe Smith; Tony Connolly, Jimmy Nerney, Robert Dowling; Seamus Mulhare, Shane Carroll; J.P. Nerney, Evin Keane (0-3, 0-1f), Brian Ging; Aidan Bergin, Ciaran Booth, Daithí Carroll.
Subs: Alan Whelan for M Dowling (25m, black card), Cathal Whelan (0-1f) for Jimmy Nerney (h/t), Chris Bergin (1-2, 0-2f) for C Booth (37m, inj), Eoin Delaney for Mulhare (46m)
Referee: Clifford Ward (Portarlington)