A fortunate first-half goal, that found the back of the net with the aid of a wicked deflection, proved to be the difference as a battling Heywood side were narrowly beaten by Ardee in this entertaining encounter on Friday.
Played in strong winds and at times driving rain on the excellent astro-turf surface in St Loman’s, Mullingar, Heywood looked to be well placed at the break as they trailed by just two points with the advantage of the wind to come.
Unfortunately for the Laois school, they couldn’t convert their superiority in terms of territory and possession into the necessary scores with the elements in their favour. They battled right to the end and almost snatched a draw but Paul Simms goalbound shot was well saved by Niall Carrie.
They had other half chances to snatch the goal they needed in the second half but luck was not on their side. Ardee ‘keeper Carrie twice misjudged high balls dropped in around the square but one bounced over the bar while the second went narrowly wide.
With the wind at their backs, Ardee made a strong start to the game scoring four points in the first four minutes but Heywood responded very well with the next three points of the game with two frees from Leigh Bergin and one from the trusty left foot of Paul Simms.
They could have been in front as they held the upper hand in this period but they hit a number of wides into the tricky wind. Ardee changed their formation dropping a third player into midfield and it paid dividends for the Louth side as they hit 1-3 in six minutes to move into a seven point lead.
The goal came on the 15 minute mark when James McSwiney’s shot took a deflection which wrong footed Alan Lynch.
Again however Heywood responded with great character scoring the last five points of the half with Sean Daly, Leigh Bergin (2) and Paul Simms (2) all on target. That left Heywood trailing by 1-7 to 0-8 at the break but they would have the advantage of the elements in the second-half.
They reduced the gap to one shortly after the restart with another Leigh Bergin point but three points from Ryan Burns for Ardee put daylight between the sides again. With the wind now howling down the field, Heywood continued to press and points from Simms and Bergin got them back within two.
Unfortunately that was as close as they got as two further points from Simms were countered by three further points from Ardee who led by three entering the final minutes.
Heywood had one last chance to snatch a draw but Simms’ goalbound shot was clawed away by Niall Carrie.
Scorers: Heywood CS: Leigh Bergin 0-7 (0-5f, 0-1 ‘45’); Paul Simms 0-5; Sean Daly 0-1. Ardee CS: Ryan Burns 0-8 (0-3f); James McSwiney 1-2; Martin Duffy 0-1; Conor Keenan 0-1; James Caraher 0-1.
Heywood CS: Alan Lynch (Ballyroan); Cian Moffit (Ballyroan), Sean Daly (Timahoe), David Lalor (Timahoe); Liam Lalor (Spink), Aaron Carroll (Ballyroan), Jimmy Keegan (Spink); Ronan Broderick (Naomh Eamann), Leigh Bergin (Shanahoe); Sean Downey (Spink), Kevin Bergin (The Heath), Rory McEvoy (Ballyroan); Paul Simms (Spink), John Dwyer (Naomh Eamann), Philip Walton (Ballyroan). Subs: Dylan Byrne (Crettyard) for Liam Lalor (51mins), Sean Cooney for Jimmy Keegan (51mins).
Ardee CS: Niall Carrie; David Carroll, Cathal Clarke, Evan Keenan; James Caraher, Conor Keenan, Mitchell Keenan; Kevin Traynor, Ryan Ward; Daire McConnon, Martin Duffy, James McSwiney; Ryan Burns, Aaron O’Brien, Ryan Rooney. Subs: Mikey Nultey for Aaron O’Brien (17mins), Conal Keenan for Mitchell Keenan (51mins)
Referee: Michael McAdden (Westmeath)