Mountmellick are through to the quarter-finals of the Laois SFC after a hard fought win over Crettyard in O’Moore Park on Saturday evening.
Football Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 1
For the second year in a row these teams had met in the championship, and unfortunately it seemed to be a case of familiarity breeding contempt.
An unsightly brawl which erupted with about ten minutes to go blighted the game. Players fighting is nothing new, but when mentors get involved, it only serves as a starting pistol for all out bedlam.
So it proved here, with not enough common sense on display from some of those in bibs, a fitting garment indeed for the childlike behaviour on show.
Those actions will surely be dealt with in another setting anyway, but in terms of football, Mountmellick were deserving winners, having been the better side for the majority of the game.
With only a sprinkling of experience, they will get better over the coming years, as their young players mature and gain experience, so a quarter-final appearance this year is a big step in the right direction.
For Crettyard, it has been a year to forget. Beaten in a game now declared void, awarded a bye that shouldn’t have existed in a competition which no longer exists, they then lose their only legitimate SFC game of the year.
In terms of building for the future, there is not must they can take from 2015, aside from remaining at senior level and having the chance to improve next year.
Like Mountmellick, they too have plenty of youth, but they have much work to do.
In the early stages of the game, however, they looked quite impressive. Mark Lyons opened the scoring with a fine effort from the right wing inside of a minute, with Jimmy Brennan adding another soon after.
Mountmellick wouldn’t score until the 11th minute, despite having a significant wind advantage, as Darragh Hanlon found the target from the right wing to get them up and running.
Crettyard responded through Laois senior Evan O’Carroll, as he punished some sloppy Mountmellick defending. That was just the fourth point in the opening 20 minutes, but things began to pick up after that.
Ben Reddin pointed from 30 yards out and Karl Donoher added another on the run to draw Mountmellick level, as Niall Mullen then gave them the lead with a point from a free.
They should have went further ahead two minutes later when Ben Reddin was through on goal, but he dragged his shot wide. Luckily for him, Mark Grennan atoned for that miss soon after when he was put through on goal, and he coolly slotted it in the bottom corner.
Cormac Murphy pointed a free in response for Crettyard, leaving the goal between the teams at the break.
The start to the second half ws going to be key, and it was Mountmellick who found their feet first, with Colm Coss and Ben Reddin both hitting the target to stretch their lead to five.
The best Crettyard could do from there was get within four, but the row which broke out killed any fluency in the game and, with both teams reduced to 14 men, it made things very difficult for launching a comeback.
They battled all the way to end, as they always do, but Mark Dowling’s injury time point put the seal on the victory for Mountmellick.
Scorers: Evan O’Carroll, Cristóir Maher 0-2 each, Cormac Murphy (free), Mark Lyons, James Brennan 0-1 each.
Team: John Graham; Cormac Phelan, Ciaran Hosey, Michael Jordan; Sean O’Shea, Patrick Brennan, Jason Dunne; James Brennan, Evan O’Carroll; Philip Brennan, Conor Barry, Patrick O’Reilly; Cormac Murphy, Mark Lyons, Cristóir Maher. Subs: Mark Kelly for Barry (47 mins), Eddie O’Reilly for Patrick O’Reilly (59 mins), Aaron Murphy for Phelan (64 mins - Black Card)
Scorers: Mark Grennan 1-0, Niall Mullen (frees), Brendan Reddin, Karl Donoher (0-1 pen) 0-2 each, Colm Coss, Darragh Hanlon, Mark Dowling 0-1 each.
Team: Eoghan Keogh; Ben Forde, Michael Lawlor, Keith Dunphy; Darren Fitzpatrick, Gearoid Hanrahan, Shane Langan; Shane Conlon, Colm Coss; Karl Donoher, Darragh Hanlon, Brendan Reddin; Mark Grennan, Niall Mullen, Eddie Melia. Subs: Ethan Lawlor for Reddin (44 mins), Laurence Kenny for Langan (44 mins - injured), Mark Dowling for Hanlon (59 mins), Bernard Rochford for Grennan (63 mins)
Referee: David Moore (St Joseph’s))