In their first meeting since last year’s County final, the reigning County champions Camross once again prevailed in a close encounter on Saturday evening.
Camross 0 - 20
Rathdowney-Errill 0 - 18
Laois Shopping Centre ACHL Division 1
Rathdowney-Errill were dealt a blow just after the restart when they were reduced to fourteen-men with the game level at twelve points apiece. Camross rattled off some long range points and ground out their fourth win in a row.
Camross raced into an early four point lead in their own backyard with Darren Drennan, Zane Keenan, Matthew Collier and Dean Delaney all posting points to the scoreboard in the opening six minutes as the visitors were slow off the mark.
Aided by a substantial wind in the opening half Rathdowney-Errill opened their account through Brandon McGinley and James Ryan closely followed to halve the deficit.
Niall Holmes sent over a close-range free for the home side, but Paddy McCane landed a free from his own sixty-five and then launched a point from the half-way line to erase their slow start.
A brace of frees from Holmes and a single from Darren Gilmartin were returned by McCane and Tadhg Dowling. Holmes and a monster point from Keenan had Camross four clear, but points from McCane, Shane Dollard and a brace from wing-back John Purcell narrowed the gap.
Camross’ midfield duo of Keenan and Dean Delaney struck in the final minutes of the half to see them lead by a two points going in at the break, 0-12 to 0-10.
Rathdowney wasted no time getting back on level terms with Ryan and McCane splitting the uprights, but then they were reduced to fourteen-men when Dollard received his second yellow card six minutes into the half.
Now with the wind behind their backs, Keenan sent over a free from his own forty-five to edge them ahead. It wasn’t to last long as McCane added another two frees to edge Rathdowney-Errill into the lead for the first time in the game.
Camross roared back with four points on the hop through Keenan (2), Matthew Collier and Gilmartin as the game entered the final ten minutes.
Substitute Vinnie Cleere interrupted the Camross flow with a well-taken point, but the eventual winners pushed their lead out to five points with Holmes, Keenan and Dwane Palmer all hitting the target.
Rathdowney-Errill battled back to narrow the gap to a goal thanks to Tadhg Dowling and a brilliant sideline-cut from McCane to setup a nervous finish. Deep into injury-time they had a final chance from a twenty-metre free, but full-back Brian Campion’s driven shot sailed over the crossbar as Camross secured a two-point win.
Scorers: Zane Keenan 0-7 (0-3 frees), Niall Holmes 0-5 (0-4 frees), Darren Gilmartin, Dean Delaney and Matthew Collier 0-2 each, Darren Drennan and Dwane Palmer 0-1 each.
Team: Tadhg Doran; Michael Phelan, Andrew Collier, Daniel Breen; Darrell Dooley, Gearoid Burke, Craig Delaney; Zane Keenan, Dean Delaney; Darren Gilmartin, Ciaran Collier, Matthew Collier; Niall Holmes, Dwane Palmer, Darren Drennan. Subs: Martin Burke for Dooley (54 mins), Orie Phelan for M Collier (56 mins), Mossy Burke for Gilmartin (56 mins).
Scorers: Paddy McCane 0-7 (0-5 frees, 0-1 SC), Brandon McGinley, John Purcell, James Ryan and Tadhg Dowling 0-2 each, Shane Dollard, Brian Campion (free) and Vinnie Cleere 0-1 each.
Team: Damien Madden; Jimmy Corrigan, Brian Campion, Kevin O’Dea; Joe Fitzpatrick, John Keane, John Purcell; David Poynton, Alan Delaney; James Ryan, Shane Dollard, Paddy McCane; Tadhg Dowling, Eoin Bourke, Brandon McGinley. Subs: Paddy Meehan for Poynton (25 mins), Vinnie Cleere for Dowling (29 mins), Shane Bowe for Delaney (46 mins), Tadhg Dowling for Bourke (54 mins), Bourke for Dowling (59 mins).
REFEREE: John Lalor (Shanahoe)