LAOIS SHOPPING CENTRE JUNIOR B FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
Slieve Bloom, who scored a crucial victory against Ballyfin in the Premier Intermediate Championship only last week, showed off their footballing ability in the Laois Centre of Excellence by taking home the Junior ‘B’ Football Championship over Stradbally’s second string.
Slieve Bloom 2-8
Stradbally played the better football in the opening period, as they went 0-2 up early doors. The experienced Greg Ramsbottom tapped over a free from close-range before Colin Beale kicked their first point from play.
Slieve Bloom were struggling to find their shooting boots early on and they kicked three wides, although Stradbally’s defence was solid and deserves credit. Ben Conroy, who is a classy footballer and even had a brief run with the Laois Senior football team under John Sugrue a few years ago, opened Slieve Bloom’s account after a strong run resulted in a score.
It took a few more minutes for them to get back on the scoreboard, but Slieve Bloom midfielder Evan Power did point a straightforward free to level the sides as we headed for the first water break.
Stradbally’s first team manager, Greg Ramsbottom, scored his second point straight after the water break after a lovely effort off his left boot. Slieve Bloom and Ben Conroy responded in style though, as the wing-forward went on another lung-bursting run where Stradbally defenders just couldn’t get a hand on him, and Conroy finished to the net.
It was all Slieve Bloom for the remainder of the half as well. The impressive Evan Power grabbed another point for himself, this time from play, as he cut in from the side and opted to fist one over from close-range. Evan Power continued to run at the Stradbally backline and got further reward for his effort by firing over his third point.
Robbie Burke blasted over the last score of the half for Slieve Bloom following more strong running from Evan Power, and Slieve Bloom went in with a 1-5 to 0-3 advantage at half-time.
Upon the restart, Ciaran Conroy kicked over a fine effort to stretch Slieve Bloom’s lead out to six points. Stradbally had their first goal opportunity after that, with Colin Beale’s shot coming off the post, and Darragh Mulhall picked up the rebound only to send it straight into the arms of Slieve Bloom keeper Gavin Conroy.
Stradbally did cut into the lead though, as Greg Ramsbottom beat his marker near the end line and unselfishly fisted across to full-forward Darragh Mulhall, who palmed home to an empty net.
Colin Beale kicked over his second point, and the deficit was reduced to just two points. However, Stradbally were dealt a blow when second half substitute Derek Beale, who was only on the field a few moments, received a black card.
Ben Conroy got Slieve Bloom back on the scoreboard through a pointed free before Conroy scored his second goal. He played a give and go with Ciaran Conroy and showed blistering pace before dispatching to the net.
Stradbally closed the gap late on but could not find the goal necessary to turn this one around, as Slieve Bloom ran out deserving winners.
Scorers: Ben Conroy 2-3 (0-2 frees), Evan Power 0-3 (0-1 free), Robbie Burke and Ciaran Conroy 0-1 each
Team: Gavin Conroy; Sean Nolan, Tom Delaney, Dylan Collins; Stephen Phelan, Gearoid Lowry, Ben Shore; Evan Power, Rory Power; Ciaran Conroy, John Lowry, Ben Conroy; Ross Holmes, Darragh Delaney, Taidgh Cuddy. Subs: Robbie Burke, Jake Collins.
Scorers: Darragh Mulhall 1-0, Derek Beale (0-1 free), Colin Beale and Greg Ramsbottom (0-1 free) 0-2 each, Podge Langton 0-1
Team: Jack Larkin: Tadgh Mullen, Eamon Conlan, Billy Murphy; Cathal Hewitt, Richard Carolan, Tadgh Murray; Ben Wall, Liam Clancy; Sean McDonald, Greg Ramsbottom, Colin Beale; Jamie Devoy, Darragh Mulhall, John Clancy. Subs: Jamie Kavanagh, John Donohue, Podge Langton.
REFEREE: Brendan Hickey (Graiguecullen)
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