Laois Shopping Centre Senior Football Championship Rd 1
Arles Killeen 1-12
By Denis J. Croke
THESE two sides served up a game of football that had the supporters on the edges of the seats right up to the final whistle. And not all the excitement was reserved for the finals minutes, right from the throw-in there was major debate.
In all my years covering football and hurling games, I reckon I witnessed the quickest ever sending off in a game.
When referee Maurice Deegan threw in the ball Emo won possession. The ball was sent long to Jack Owens but he scuffed his shot. As the ball bobbled Arles Killeen keeper Michael Leigh gathered it and collided with another Emo player, Brian Gorman.
Despite being a man short Arles Killeen maintained the pressure through out, looked the more impressive for long periods and it took a late point from Emo’s Darren Strong to send the game to a replay.
Both fell to the ground and in the ensuing muddle Leigh appeared to strike Gorman and the referee had no hesitation in flashing the red card. With one minute and seven seconds on the clock Leigh departed the field with Brendan O’Shea having to depart to make way for substitute keeper Willie Moran.
So now it was time to play football.
Emo took the early initiative with Paul Lawlor and Evan Costello converting frees. Paul Kingston replied from a placed ball before we had the game’s first goal.
Paul Lawlor saw a shot rocket back off the crossbar before Jack Owens had two efforts blocked but at the third time he stroked the ball to the net.
Dermot Julian pulled back a point for Arles Killeen before the sides were level in the 17th minute in extraordinary circumstances.
When Donie Brennan took a quick which he floated in over the Emo defence, goalkeeper Niall Gorman came off hos line, misjudged the flight of the ball which fell to Paul Kingston to tap into an empty net.
From there to the break there was little to choose between the sides as they matched each other score for score. Donie Brennan was on fire for Arles Killeen landing three points, one better than the next. For Emo Jack Owens (2) and Darren Strong were on target leaving the sides locked on 1-5 apiece at half time.
With Conor Keightley and Paul Lawlor swapping points on the change over it was till level pegging until Arles Killeen suddenly found another gear.
The quickly ran into a four point lead by the 42nd minute as Donie Brennan and Paul Kingston each landed a brace of points apiece.
That lead was halved inside the next four minutes thanks to good points from Evan Costello and Paul Lawlor.
A Paul Kingston free made it a three point game in the 50th minute, but Emo would not go away, quite the opposite in fact.
Now it was last year’s intermediate champions who moved up a gear. Darren Strong landed a fine point followed by a Paul Lawlor special where he dummied left, then right before splitting posts from out on the left.
With three minutes of normal time remaining Strong again got forward to kick the equaliser.
The tensions were rising. Shane Julian had a golden opportunity to edge Arles Killeen back in front but he kicked a terrible wide. Donie Brennan was then fouled as with the Emo players arguing the decision the referee brought the ball forward and Jason Enright split the posts with the clock reading 59 minutes.
Four minutes into time added on Emo staged one last foray forward and won a free about 50 metres out. Darren Strong took on the responsibility, steadied himself, watched anxiously as the ball looked to be tailing wide but went in off the left hand upright to send the game to a replay which takes place tomorrow night (Wednesday) at 7.45pm in O’Moore Park.
ARLES KILLEEN: Mick Leigh; Brian Kennedy, James Mahon, Joe Mulhare; Niall O’Rourke, Dermot Julian (0-1), John Mahon; Enda O’Rourke, Shane Julian; Jason Enright (0-1f), Conor Keightley (0-1), Seán O’Shea; Brendan O’Shea, Paul Kingston (1-4, 0-2f), Donie Brennan (0-5).
Subs: Willie Moran for B O’Shea (1m)
EMO: Niall Gorman; Thomas Scully, Liam Crowley, James O’Rourke; Paddy Dunne, Shane Murphy, Nigel Murphy; Darren Strong (0-4, 0-1f), Evan Costello (0-2, 0-1f); Brian Gorman, Padraig Kirwan, Finbarr Crowley; Jack Owens (1-2), Paul Lawlor (0-4, 0-1f), David Gorman.
Subs: James Coman for L. Crowley (23m, inj), Cian Langford for B. Gorman (45m), Stephen Norton for Scully (52m)
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Stradbally)