Donie Kingston, Arles Killeen, is tackled by Will Young, Clonaslee St Manman's Gaels. Pic: Denis Byrne.
Arles-Killeen preserved their Laois SFC status for 2019 as they saw off a battling performance from Clonaslee St Manman's Gaels in O'Moore Park on Sunday night.
Clonaslee St Manman's Gaels 1-8
Having lead by as much as twelve points early in the second half this probably should have been more comfortable for Arles-Killeen, but Clonaslee St Manman's Gaels managed to launch a comeback of sorts in the second period. They ultimately ran out of the steam though, and will have to produce a better performance in the relegation final.
Neither side could claim to have hit the ground running in this one, with only one score registered in the opening ten minutes.
That went to Arles-Killeen, as a nice move put Sean O'Shea through on goal. However, from a little over six years out, his shot floated over the bar for a point.
Clonaslee St Manman's Gaels were creating chances at the other end, but their shooting was very poor, as they wasted countless efforts on goal. The second score of the game finally arrived in the 12th minute, as Donie Kingston set up Jason Enright for a point.
It was the midpoint of the half before Clonaslee forced an umpire into raising a flag, as Glen McEvoy's sweetly struck free from the left wing sailed between the posts. Within a minute, however, that score was canceled out thanks to a Paul Kingston point.
Donie Brennan then made it a three point lead before Clonaslee had their best spell of the half, as Glen McEvoy and Ger Dunne pointed in succession to get them back within one.
That was as good as it got before the break though, as Arles-Killeen pushed well clear. Good work from Sean O'Shea to keep the ball in play ended with Jason Enright setting up Donie Kingston for a point, and then came the opening goal.
It was a really poor one to concede for Clonaslee, as from a sideline ball on near their own 21 yard line, they kicked possession straight to Arles-Killeen. They took full advantage, and a quick interchange of passes ended with Donie Brennan palming to the net.
That score gave Arles-Killeen an understandable lift, and two more Donie Brennan points came either side of a Donie Kingston effort, as eight points was now the gap.
Clonaslee notched one back before the break, through Elliot Scully, but they had a mountain to climb as they trailed 1-8 to 0-4 at the interval.
That mountain got even higher on the restart, as Killeen soon had another goal. Donie Kingston's strong run took him to the edge of the Clonaslee penalty area, and he duly applied the finish for a superb goal.
Kingston then bustled his way through for a point soon after and with a 2-9 to 0-4 lead, Arles-Killeen looked home and hosed even though there was still 25 minutes to be played.
Killian Horgan added a free for Clonaslee but Sean O'Shea soon cancelled that out after a swift counterattack.
All seemed destined for a comfortable Arles-Killeen win at this stages, but Clonaslee are not exactly known for laying down without a fight, and so it proved here. John Scully raced through on goal only to be tripped in the area by Shane Julian.
The Arles-Killeen man was shown a black card, and Clonaslee 'keeper Conor Gorman dispatched the penalty to the net. Damien McCaul and John Scully followed up with points, and now Clonaslee had themselves back to within six.
Donie Brennan settled some Arles nerves with a point, and sub Brendan O'Shea added another soon after, only for Killian Horgan to keep the slim hopes alive for Clonaslee.
Those hopes eventually faded though, as Arles-Killeen resumed control of the game with points from Donie Brennan and Paul Kingston to retain their SFC status for another year.
Scorers: Donie Brennan 1-5, Donie Kingston 1-3, Sean O'Shea, Paul Kingston, Jason Enright 0-2 each, Brendan O'Shea 0-1.
Team: Mick Leigh; Niall O'Rourke, James Mahon, Brian Kennedy; Conor Keightley, John Mahon, Joe Mulhare; Donie Kingston, Shane Julian; Enda O'Rourke, Dermot Julian, Paul Kingston; Jason Enright, Sean O'Shea, Donie Brennan. Subs: Evan McDonald for Kennedy (38 mins), Brendan O'Shea for S Julian (43 mins, BC), Paul McDonald for N O'Rourke (56 mins)
CLONASLEE ST MANMAN'S GAELS
Scorers: Conor Gorman 1-0 (pen), Killian Horan (one free), Glen McEvoy (one free) 0-2 each, John Scully, Elliot Scully, Ger Dunne, Damien McCaul 0-1 each.
Team: Conor Gorman; Willie Murray, Ger Reilly, Diarmuid Conroy; Ger Dunne, Willie Young, Liam Senior; Seamus Rosney, John Scully; John Rigney, Glen McEvoy, Niall Hogan; Patrick Hyland, Killian Horgan, Elliot Scully. Subs: Michael Hyland for Dunne (half time, inj), Damien McCaul for Murray (half time), Ryan Kilroe for E Scully (40 mins), Fergal Scully for Rosney (53 mins)
Referee: Brendan McCann (Portarlington)