Laois Shopping Centre Senior Football Championship Rd 3
St Joseph’s 1-15
Ballyroan Abbey 2-11
By Denis J. Croke
THERE was little or nothing to choose between these two sides and just who would advance to the last eight of the championship was in the balance right up to the final whistle.
Even when Ballyroan Abbey were reduced to 14 men with nine minutes remaining could St Joseph’s shake off the men in sky blue. After Scott Conroy made the lonely walk to the sideline the sides were level and in the time remaining the Saints managed to score one point more than Ballyroan.
Ballyroan got the scoring underway when Padraig McMahon , who was to cause havoc in the St Joseph’s defence all afternoon, popped over a third minute point. Michael Keogh levelled a minute later.
Ninety seconds later came a score that had the crowd on their feet. A long delivery into the heart of the Ballyroan defence was gathered by McMahon and he hammered to the net.
But as was to be the nature St Joseph’s came back strongly and three points on the trot, two frees from Keogh and Adam Campion had the sides together again 11 minutes in.
Now it was Ballyroan’s turn. Diarmuid Whelan and Shaun Murphy landed two good points. And when MJ Tierney sent a long ba;ll from under the stand into the Abbeyleix end goal it seemed to be drifting wide. However, it was brilliantly kept in by Murphy, fell to McMahon and he rattled the net again.
Suddenly the gap was five but the Saints were not gone away. Dylan Doyle and Conor Kealy pulled two back with Diarmuid Whelan and Jack Lacey swapping points.
And in the blink of an eye they were level again in the 29th minute. Bernard Wheatley and Adam Campion combined to put Conor Kealy through and he buried the ball in the net.
And this was how it remained after Mark McDonald and James Kelly exchanged frees before the break leaving the scoreline 2-5 to 1-8.
St Joseph’s showed the earlier hunger on the restart with Keogh raising two white flags, one from a free. Scott Conroy pulled one back for Ballyroan followed by swapped points from Dylan Doyle and Tierney.
A super point from James Kelly in the 45th restored St Joseph’s two-point advantage but they could not shake off Ballyroan. By the 49th minute the sides were locked together again thanks to points form Diarmuid Whelan and Tierney.
The scoreline might have been very different as in between those two points Michael Keogh’s shot had Ballyroan keeper Andrew Bonham beaten but Mark Cahill was on the line to clear.
The game was getting a bit testy at this stage with a few players getting involved in a few handbag incidents following one of which Conroy was dismissed.
When they got back to playing football Dylan Doyle edged the Saints back in front with 52 minutes on the clock. Michael Keogh’s fisted point put two between the sides four minutes later.
With three minutes of normal time remaining Padraig McMahon reduced the gap to the minimum and we were in for a few frantic last minutes.
When Brian Daly split the posts with a wonderful effort in the 59th minute St Joseph’s would have thought they might relax but then six minutes of time added on was announced.
However, the best Ballyroan could managed was a 64th minute point from a Tierney free and so made the ext from the championship.
The St Joseph’s players remained out on the pitch as the draw for the quarter-finals were made and one can only guess what went through their minds when the were drawn to play Portlaoise.
ST JOSEPH’S: Aaron Cooney; Tom Dunne, Aidan Brennan, Donal Ramsbottom; Jack Lacey, James Kelly (0-2), Colin Campion; Noel Garvan, Adam Campion (0-1); Josh Lacey (0-1), Dylan Doyle (0-3), Mikie Dempsey; Conor Kealy (1-1), Bernard Wheatley, Mickey Keogh (0-6, 0-2fs).
Subs: Mattie Campion for Kealy (43m), Brian Daly (0-1) for Garvan (50m)
BALLYROAN ABBEY: Andrew Bonham; Ciaran Byrne, Gavin Tynan, Cian Moffitt; Jamie Whelan, Aaron Carroll, Marty Scully; Mick Brennan, Scott Conroy (0-1); Mark McDonald (0-1), Shaun Murphy (0-1), Mark Cahill; Diarmuid Whelan (0-3), Padraig McMahon (2-2), MJ Tierney (0-3, 0-1f).
Subs: Cathal Doyle for Brennan (h/t), Ciaran Carroll for Moffitt (h/t), John Rodgers for McDonald (51m), Stephen Thompson for Whelan (55m)
Referee: Brendan McCann (Portarlington)