The Heath stage remarkable comeback to claim ACFL Division 3 title

Rory Delaney

Reporter:

Rory Delaney

Email:

rory@leinsterexpress.ie

A remarkable second half comeback from The Heath saw them get their hands on the ACFL Division 3 trophy after an enthralling battle with Portarlington on Saturday night in Mountmellick.

The Heath 2-16

Portarlington 2-12

Port held a seven point lead at half time, and had been by far the more potent looking of the sides, leading 2-8 to 0-7. The Heath started slowly and coughed up two poor goals, but were transformed on the restart.

Three half-time substitutions seemed to kick them into gear, and with Cathal Whelan in deadly accurate form from placed balls, they reeled in Port before then passing them out in the closing stages.

Portarlington could hardly have asked for a better start to the game, as Adam Ryan fired over a point in the second minute. Soon after, a poor kickout from The Heath gifted possession to Port, and David Condron rattled the net with a brilliant finish.

Ronan Coffey added a free before centre-forward Stephen O'Neill raced through and hammered a shot to the net to stretch the Port lead even further. Adam Ryan then chipped in with his second point, and Port lead 2-3 to 0-0 after just 13 minutes, and there only looked one likely winner.

The Heath finally opened their account a minute later, when Bob Delaney picked out Dan Hennessy, and he slotted over from 25 yards out. That finally kicked them into life, and wing-forward Shane Keane reeled off two points in as many minutes to help The Heath crowd find their voice.

Bob Delaney then made good ground down the right wing before slotting over, and a Cathal Whelan free made it five in a row for The Heath, as they looked to have shaken off the effects of the poor start.

Chris Booth bit back with two points for Port, the second of which grazed the crossbar, but Mark Dunne and Whelan (free) cancelled those out for The Heath.

Port finished the half strongly, as Booth and Ronan Coffey (2) saw them into a comfortable, and deserved, seven point lead.

The Heath made a number of changes at half time, and they eventually paid dividends. Cathal Whelan got The Heath off to a bright start in the half with a couple of pointed frees, but Chris Booth hit back for Port with his fourth point of the game.

The Heath were starting to hit form now, and Whelan landed another free, only to see it matched by a fine score from Ronan Coffey.

The Heath were building momentum now though, and Whelan landed two more frees to get his side within four, before their first goal arrived. In a goalmouth scramble, Liam Kinsella got the vital touch, and now The Heath were within one.

The equaliser came four minutes later, courtesy of Cathal Whelan, but Port retook the lead thanks to a point from sub Jason Ward. With the pace and tension rising all the time, Whelan tied the game again with another free, before The Heath won a penalty for a foul on Jack Delaney.

Mark Dunne held his nerve to tuck away the spot kick, and The Heath were now in control. An unseemly row erupted after that, resulting in a large amount of stoppage time, but The Heath had taken control of the game now.

Ronan Coffey pointed for Port, but another Whelan free and one from Shane Forde saw The Heath men claim the silverware.

THE HEATH

Scorers: Cathal Whelan 0-10 (0-9 frees), Mark Dunne 1-1 (1-0 pen), Liam Kinsella 1-0, Shane Keane 0-2, Bob Delaney, Shane Forde, Dan Hennessy 0-1 each.

Team: JP Nerney; Joe McEvoy, Gary Hogan, James Conroy; David Phelan, Mark Dowling, Bob Delaney; Liam Kinsella, Shane Forde; Shane Keane, Mark Dunne, Robbie Ging; Cathal Whelan, Shane Booth, Dan Hennessy. Subs: Neil Keane for Phelan (16 mins), Jack Delaney for Hennessy (half time), Luke Hyland for Booth (half time), Aidan Bergin for Ging (half time), Mick Lenihan for B Delaney (39 mins, injured), Benny Conroy for Bergin (63 mins, BC)

PORTARLINGTON

Scorers: Ronan Coffey 0-5 (0-3 frees), Chris Booth 0-4, Stephen O'Neill, David Condron 1-0 each, Adam Ryan 0-2, Jason Ward 0-1.

Team: Gary Lanigan; Adam Kirwan, Stephen Mulhall, Alex Mohan; Andrew Evans, Colin Slevin, Curtis Lyons; Podge Dwyer, Adam Ryan; Chris Booth, Stephen O'Neill, Ronan Coffey; Daryl Foy, David Condron, Scott Osborne. Subs: Eoin McCann for Ryan (half time, injured), Padraig Coffey for Evans (35 mins), Jason Ward for Foy (52 mins), Jack Whelan for Ward (65 mins, BC)

Referee: Mick Tarpey (Kilcavan)