Four goals in seven second-half minutes earned Abbeyleix and Rosenallis a point apiece in this entertaining Premier Division clash at Fr Breen Park on Sunday morning as the hosts twice had to come from behind to avoid defeat against their local rivals. It was perhaps the fair result because for all Abbeyleix’ style it was matched by Rosenallis’ substance and in the end it was a point well earned for the home side against a typically combative performance from Paul Friel’s men.
Rosenallis had the ball in the net as early as the third minute only for Donal Lalor’s strike to be correctly ruled out by referee Adrian Martin, with Lalor’s strike coming well before the whistle sounded. From the second effort, Athletic keeper Daire Whelan parried Lalor’s shot and had to make an even smarter stop from the feet of Niall Doolan.
To be fair to the home side, they were the better side in that opening half and time and again they created chances that could have had them out if sight by the break. Rosenallis manager Paul Friel deputised in goals and proved to be a real nuisance for Abbeyleix by pulling off a string of fine saves in the first half, none more so than from a low Stephen Hawkins strike that looked destined for the bottom corner after a fine David Moloney through ball.
Rosenallis did have a couple of good half chances before the break with two James Jackson efforts just missing the target and Darren McEvoy glancing a header just wide of the right hand post from Marcus Redmond’s excellent cross. After the string of near misses it was perhaps no surprise that it only took fifteen minutes of the second half for the stalemate to be broken, but the fact that it was the visitors that broke it was a little unexpected.
Abbeyleix had been pressing hard for that crucial first goal and it looked like it was only a matter of time before the hosts would finally break the Rosenallis resistance. However, when Mark Graham threaded a super through ball inside, Darren McEvoy pipped Daire Phelan to it and he side-footed home into an empty net.
That lead lasted all of two minutes, and after all his good work it was an error from Paul Friel that got Athletic back on terms. A long ball down field bounced deceptively over the keeper and sub Willie Bowen was on hand to bundle the ball over the line.
But just when they felt they had got the measure of their visiting opponents they were behind before they could even regroup. Niall Doolin broke free down the right wing unopposed and he had all the time in the world to pick out the pass for McEvoy to double his tally from three yards out. They could have went 3-1 up but for a fine Daire Phelan double save and with just over twenty minutes to go Athletic were back on terms.
Niall Wallace floated in a corner and young midfielder Podge Lalor nodded home to equalise. Both sides plugged away in search for the winner but neither found it and they had to settle for a point apiece.
ABBEYLEIX ATHLETIC: Daire Phelan, Dan Coffey, Darren Whelan, David Brennan, Eoin O’Brien, David Moloney, Podge Lalor, Ger Fennelly, Stephen Hawkins, Niall Wallace, Joe Bergin (Willie Bowen ’55).
ROSENALLIS: Paul Friel, Marcus Redmond (John Lawlor ’36), Mark Graham, Tommy Gorman, Donal Lawlor, Conor Dowling, Stephen McEvoy, Niall Doolin, Darren McEvoy, James Jackson, Mark Gorman.
Referee: Adrian Martin