A goal in either half proved the vital scores for Mountmellick as they dumped Stradbally out of this year's Laois SFC at O'Moore Park on Friday evening.
Both came at crucial times in the game as Mountmellick trailed their opponents and both were the result of defensive errors by Stradbally that in the end cost them dearly in a game that they enjoyed the majority of the possession.
As the game approached half time Mountmellick trailed by two points when Stradbally conceded a penalty that Shane Conlon cracked home and then midway though the second half they were again two points in arrears when a misdirected pass was seized on and Colm Coss finished with style for a lead that his side did not surrender again.
Up until that second goal Stradbally had looked the better side and particularly in the third quarter when they totally dominated and kicked four unanswered points and indeed should have had a goal as well.
Coss’s goal gave Mountmellick a new impetus and they kicked on to lead by four points with Stradbally failing to score for the final 19 minutes until Colm Kelly kicked a goal in injury time.
This was a fine competitive championship game but the standard of football was once again disappointing with too many mistakes by both sides with sloppy passing and with the ball given away too easily time and again.
That Mountmellick won, apart from their two well taken goals, was due to their outstanding defensive display particularly in the final quarter when led by Ger Reddin they absorbed almost everything that Stradbally could throw at them.
Stradbally had too many key players that failed to live up to expectations on the night and they have to be bitterly disappointed to exit the championship before the quarter final stage.
John Donohue was their star performer in the opening half as he hit three super points from play and in fact added another on the restart. At that stage he was giving a man of the match display but failed to add to that total and was well curtailed for the remainder of the game.
Colm Coss opened the scoring within the opening minute but Donohue levelled and then Jamie Kavanagh put Stradbally ahead in the fourth minute only for Coss to tie the game up from a free.
John O’Loughlin and Ja Challoner combined to set up Ben Forde in the 10th minute but Stradbally went on to dominate the next 20 minutes while suffering the loss of Greg Ramsbottom and Paudge Langton through injury in that period as well.
Two excellent points from John Donohue and a Colm Kelly free had Stradbally 0-5 to 0-3 ahead when in the 30th minute Diarmuid Flaherty was foot blocked as he shot for goal and Shane Conlon slotted home the resultant penalty and a 40 metre Colm Coss free gave Mountmellick a 1-4 to 0-5 half time lead.
John Donohue extended that lead on the restart with a goal at his mercy and Gary Kavanagh and Colm Kelly added a point and Stradbally were looking good as they played their best football of the game, moving the ball well and playing with urgency and determination.
Then disaster struck when a Paul Begley pass in front of his own goals went straight into the hands of an opponent and a John O’Loughlin pass inside the defence to Colm Coss ended with Coss rattling the net for a one-point lead.
Then a minute later Colm Kelly came up short with a 35m free in front of the posts to level and the Stradbally challenge wilted as three successive scores from Gordon Lalor, Colm Coss and Diarmuid Flaherty gave Mountmellick a four point lead.
Colm Kelly did strike for an injury time goal but Mountmellick held out for a place in the quarter finals.
MOUNTMELLICK: Donie O’Mahony; Gearoid Hanrahan, Niall Gorman, Mick Lawlor; Sean George, Ger Reddin, Richie McElwee; John O’Loughlin, Matthew Whelan; Shane Conlon, Colm Coss, Ja Challoner; Gordon Lalor, Diarmuid O’Flaherty, Ben Forde.
STRADBALLY: Darren Maher; Kevin Molloy, Paudge Langton, Billy Murphy; Stephen Lalor, Paul Begley, Kieran Delaney; Eamon Delaney, Conor Delaney; Jamie Kavanagh, Gary Kavanagh, John Donohue; Greg Ramsbottom, Colm Kelly, Damien Murphy. Subs: Dan Dunne for Langton, Cormac Delaney for Ramsbottom
Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Courtwood)
Main man - Ger Reddin (Mountmellick)
Yet again Ger Reddin was a colossus in the centre of the Mountmellick defence as he held the threat that was Gary Kavanagh and led his colleagues by example particularly in the final quarter when Stradbally threw everything at them. Time and again he cut off attacks and put in telling tackles that more than rattled opponents in a fiercely determined display
Thirteen minutes into the second half Colm Coss’s goal after a Stradbally defensive blunder put Mountmellick back in the lead, against the run of play and they went on to claim a quarter final spot.
Wides: Mountmellick 4 (2/2), Stradbally 7 (2/5)
Frees: Mountmellick 16 (10/6) Stradbally 21 (5/16)
Yellow cards: Mountmellick 2 - Diarmuid O'Flaherty (30 mins) Sean George (44 mins); Stradbally 3 Colm Kelly (34 mins), Kieran Delaney (40 mins), Billy Murphy (50 mins)