Action from Portarlington v Portlaoise in ACFL Division 1A. Pic: Alf Harvey
Last year’s Division 1B champions, Ballyroan Abbey, made a winning return to the top-tier as they opened their 2019 campaign with a five point victory over Portarlington in Fr Breen Park, Abbeyleix on Saturday afternoon.
Ballyroan Abbey 1-13
Ballyroan Abbey gained promotion from Div 1B having overcome Arles-Kilcruise in the decider last July, before exiting the Championship at the hands of Portlaoise at the quarter-final stage. Portarlington on the other hand bowed out in Round 3 to 2016 champions, Stradbally.
Ballyroan Abbey led for the majority, an unanswered 1-4 midway through the first half saw the hosts take a two point lead into the dressing rooms at the interval before a strong second half showing left them finish with five points to spare.
An evenly matched opening ten minutes failed to separate the sides as they remained level at two points apiece with Diarmuid Whelan and Enda McWey on-target for Ballyroan, while Ronan Coffey and Stephen O’Neill did likewise for Port before they took the lead on the quarter of an hour mark through Colin Slevin.
Ballyroan were level a minute later through MJ Tierney, and then home side added a further 1-3 without reply in the five minutes that followed. Padraig McMahon finished a well-worked move with the only green flag of the day, while corner-forward Enda McWey added a brace to his tally on his first senior appearance for the club to push their lead out to six points.
Portarlington closed out the final ten minutes of the half strongly with Coffey (2), Graham Weldon and Stephen Lyons all adding points to cut the Ballyroan Abbey lead to two points with the scoreboard reading 1-6 to 0-7 at the half-time whistle.
Ballyroan were quick off the mark on the restart as they claimed the opening three points of the half with Tierney and Scott Conroy extending their lead to five points. Portarlington replied with a brace of their own from Coffey and O’Neill with twenty minutes left to play.
Ballyroan Abbey’s forward-line continued to torment the Port defence as Whelan, Tierney and Conroy split the posts in quick succession to push their lead out to six points once again with five minutes remaining on the clock.
Portarlington wrapped up the proceedings with the final point of the game as Ballyroan proved too strong with five points between the sides at the final whistle.
Scorers: Enda McWey 0-4 (0-1 free), Padraig McMahon 1-0, Diarmuid Whelan (0-2 frees), MJ Tierney (0-2 frees) and Scott Conroy 0-3 each.
Team: Andrew Bonham; Cian Moffitt, Gavin Tynan, Ruairi Dunne; Jamie Whelan, Padraig McMahon, Liam Delaney; Cathal Doyle, Shaun Murphy; Mark McDonald, Scott Conroy, John Rogers; MJ Tierney, Diarmuid Whelan, Enda McWey. SUBS: Stephen Thompson for Rogers (HT), Paudie McDonald for Bonham (40 mins), Diarmuid Conway for Dunne (40 mins), Dylan Cuddy for Enda McWey (50 mins).
Scorers: Ronan Coffey 0-5 (0-3 frees), Stephen O’Neill 0-2, Sean Michael Corcoran (free), Stephen Lyons, Colin Slevin and Graham Weldon 0-1 each.
Team: Jack Whelan; Dean Foster, Diarmuid Bennett, Eoin Kennedy; Graham Weldon, Alex Mohan, Colin Slevin; Eoin McCann, Keith Bracken; Johnny Fulham, Stephen O’Neill, Jason Moore; Evan Lyons, Ronan Coffey, Stephen Lyons. SUBS: Sean Michael Corcoran for Bracken (12 mins, inj), Darragh Galvin for E Lyons (half time), Scott Osborne for Whelan (half time), Mikey Bennett for Kennedy (45 mins), Chris Booth for Fulham (49 mins).
Referee: Michael Tarpey (Kilcavan).