The Heath breathe sigh of relief as they avoid double relegation

The Heath managed to avoid relegation from both Division 1 and Division 2 last week thanks to neighbours and old rivals Portlaoise.

The Heath managed to avoid relegation from both Division 1 and Division 2 last week thanks to neighbours and old rivals Portlaoise.

They rounded off their ACFL Division 1 campaign last Thursday night with a comprehensive victory over Ballylinan, but failed to stay up on their own merits as both Stradbally and Emo also won their respective games.

That left them waiting on the result of the Portlaoise v Rosenallis game in Division 2. Had Rosenallis won, they would have relegated The Heath from Division 2, and in doing so relegated them from Division 1 also, as a club cannot have two teams in the same division. As it turned out, Rosenallis came up just short, losing 1-11 to 1-8, so both of The Heath’s teams survive. It now means that just one team from Division 1 will be relegated, with one team coming up from Division 2.

As for this game, it will have left supporters of The Heath wondering why they couldn’t have played in this manner earlier in the year, as it probably would have seen them avoid the relegation battle they ended up in.

They were far too strong for Ballylinan here, with their attack moving well and the defence holding the hosts to just five points from play.

The Heath hit the front early courtesy of Aidan Bergin, and with brother Chris starting to show glimpses of his old form, they slowly but surely built up a commanding lead.

Ballylinan were struggling to make an impact at the other end, as scores from Chris Bergin and Colin Nestor saw The Heath pull out to a 0-5 to no score lead.

Ciaran Farrell eventually broke Ballylinan’s scoring drought midway through the first half, but that was to be their only score in the opening 30 minutes. The Heath tagged on more scores through Chris Bergin and Kieran Hyland, before Bergin slotted home a priceless goal just before half time to give The Heath a huge ten point lead at the break, 1-8 to 0-1.

Ballylinan started the second half brightly, and with Ciaran Farrell moved in to corner-forward they enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges.

Farrell slotted over a couple of points to give Ballylinan the momentum, but The Heath eventually steadied the ship thanks to a point from Jimmy Nerney before John Booth hit a brace to restore their impressive lead.

Ballylinan kept battling right to the end, but The Heath had put enough daylight between the teams to always be comfortable. They duly went on to win the match, but had to wait 24 hours before they could celebrate the victory.

SCORERS -

The Heath: Chris Bergin 1-5 (0-1 free), John Booth 0-3, Aidan Bergin 0-2, Jimmy Nerney, Colin Nestor, Kieran Hyland 0-1 each;

Ballylinan: Gary Walsh 0-4 (two frees), Ciaran Farrell 0-3

BALLYLINAN: Padraig Walsh; Patsy Brandon, Adrian Casey, Alan Kehoe; David Heaney, Padraig McEvoy, Robbie Donoher; John Kealy, Richie Ryan; Jamie Farrell, Ciaran Farrell, Brendan Kealy; Brian Kenna, Aidan Walsh, Gary Walsh. Subs: David Brennan for B Kealy (half time), PJ Leonard for Kehoe (49 mins), Alan Farrell for Ryan (53 mins), Brian McEvoy for A Walsh (53 mins), Niall Walsh for Heaney (59 mins)

THE HEATH: Marty Dowling; Eoin Delaney, Alan Dowling, Sean Ryan; Ciaran Booth, Jimmy Nerney, Colin Nestor; Seamus Mulhare, Simon Norton; John Booth, JP Nerney, Aidan Bergin; Luke Hyland, Chris Bergin, Kieran Hyland. Subs: Conor Bergin for Delaney (half time - inj), Alan Whelan for K Hyland (46 mins)

Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Courtwood)