THIS was the third meeting of these sides in this year’s championship and based on the previous results (one draw and a one point win for Graiguecullen) the conventional wisdom was that this would be an equally close game between two evenly matched sides.
Laois Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final
Arles Kilcruise 1-15
However by the time the half-time whistle went in O’Moore Park last Saturday, this game was effectively over a contest as Arles Kilcruise had opened up a fully deserved 12 point lead with Graiguecullen simply having no answer to the passing, movement and intensity of their opponents.
In the second-half Kilcruise played more defensively to protect their sizeable lead and while Graigcullen were more in the game after the break, they never looked like overcoming the deficit they faced at the break.
In the game they lost to Graiguecullen in the championship, Arles Kilcruise started slowly and left themselves too big a gap to bridge. They ensured this time that there would be no repeat of that as they started at a whirlwind pace putting five points on the board inside the first ten minutes.
The all action Ross Munnelly kicked the first two before Chris Conway added the third. The Kilcruise captain could easily have had a goal as he bore down on goal but from very close range he blasted the ball over. Further points followed from David Conway and Colm Munnelly from a ‘45 as Kilcruise opened up a 0-5 to 0-0 lead after just 11 minutes.
Graiguecullen were left chasing shadows for the majority of the first-half as Kilcruise were rampant and they struggled to make any impression against their opponents well organised and disciplined defence. They eventually opened their account after 15 minutes with a point from Dale Byrne but any thoughts they had of starting to claw their way back into the game were rapidly dispelled as Kilcruise went straight up the field to score the game’s only goal. David Conway eventually gathered possession close to the Graiguecullen goal and he appeared to be tripped by Patrick Scully. No penalty was awarded however but on the ground, surrounded by red and green jerseys, Conway somehow managed to smuggle the ball over the line. Some of the Graiguecullen players were unhappy that the goal had been awarded but the officials were adamant that the goal would stand.
Even after the goal, Kilcruise kept their foot firmly to the floor kicking another five points to put the game beyond last year’s beaten county finalists.
A point from a free from Ross Munnelly was followed by one from JP Conway with 19 minutes on the clock. While their scoring rate dropped in the later stages of the half, the men in maroon still added another three points with Ross Munnelly and David Conway (2) finding the target.
In terms of excitement the second-half had little to offer although Graiguecullen lead by Shane O’Neill from midfield are to be commended for the determined manner in which they approached the final half hour despite the huge deficit they faced.
However their efforts were for nought as Kilcruise came out with a defensive mindset in the second-half effectively choosing to hold what they had rather than looking to add another 1-10 to their total. Again it must be said that they were very well organised and disciplined at the back lead by Kevin Meaney and the hugely influential Colm Munnelly who typified the high work rate displayed by the entire team throughout the game.
A point from a free for Ambrose Doran for Graiguecullen opened the scoring in the second-half but that was quickly cancelled out by a fisted effort from Ross Munnelly.
The next two points were scored by Graiguecullen with Jamie Parr and Ambrose Doran converting frees to cut the Arles Kilcruise lead to ten points with 15 minutes remaining. While they did push forward in search of goals, those would prove to be Graigucullen’s final scores of a disappointing game for them.
After adding just one point to their total in the opening 17 minutes of the second-half, they found their range again in the final quarter adding another four points to their total.
Captain Chris Conway added his second and third point of the game before Ross Munnelly rounded off the scoring with two more of his own to put the icing on a hugely impressive win.
Scorers: Arles Kilcruise: Ross Munnelly 0-7 (0-2f); David Conway 1-3; Chris Conway 0-3 (0-1f); Colm Munnelly 0-1 ‘45; JP Conway 0-1. Graiguecullen: Ambrose Doran 0-2f; Jamie Parr 0-1f; Dale Byrne 0-1
Arles Kilcruise: James McDonald; Rory Stynes, Patrick Conway, Michael O’Shea; JP Conway, Colm Munnelly, Anthony McElroy; Kevin Meaney, Stephen Miller; Jason McLoughlin, Brendan Conway, Eoin Stynes; Chris Conway, Ross Munnelly, David Conway. Subs: Diarmuid Carroll for Patrick Conway (38mins), James Conway for Jason McLoughlin (45mins), Alan McLoughlin for Eoin Stynes (55mins), Mark Miller for JP Conway (55mins), Francis Tully for David Conway (59mins)
Graiguecullen: Patrick Scully; Patrick Murphy, Mark Timmons, Liam Byrne; Danny Aylsbury, Ian Fleming, Chris Hurley; Shane O’Neill, Bobby Doyle; Mark Doogue, Brian Maguire, Jamie Parr; Dale Byrne, Daryl Hayden, Ambrose Doran. Subs: Bobby Doyle for Liam Byrne (25mins), Luke Aylsbury for Dale Byrne (51mins)