The Stradbally Town that won the Laois cup on Saturday night
LAOIS CCFL CUP FINAL
Stradbally Town 3
Mountmellick Utd 2
Stradbally Town are CCFL Laois Cup champions after a thrilling final against Mountmellick Utd in Abbeyleix AFC grounds. You couldn’t take your eyes off the action for a split second in the first half, with five goals two penalties awarded, as well as a goalkeeper sent off.
Stradbally Town played with a strong wind in the first half, and clearly intended to use it right from the off. Noel Delaney decided to go for goal from a free inside his own half in the first minute from play, and his effort struck the crossbar.
However, Stradbally Town did grab the opening goal of the game moments later. Midfielder Justin Lalor spotted the run of pacy forward Benny Lawlor, who latched on to the pass and superbly slid it through the legs of Conor Comiskey in the Mountmellick Utd net.
Stradbally Town sensed that they could punish Mountmellick Utd further now and kept mounting attacks. Four minutes later, they went two-nil up. Benny Lawlor this time laid it off to Justin Lalor, and the Stradbally midfielder took one touch before unleashing a thunderbolt that flew into the Mountmellick net.
The momentum was all with Stradbally now and you felt they could put this game to bed in the first half. They had a few chances after the second goal went in as well, as Benny Lawlor caused the Mountmellick defence endless problems with his acceleration and tricky dribbling.
However, Mountmellick were given a fortunate boost around the fifteen-minute mark. Liam Clancy wasn’t aware of the onrushing Robbie Hibbits into the box as he swung his leg for the clearance and caught Hibbits in the face with a high kick. It was a stone wall penalty, and one Shane O’Connell had no issues dispatching into the back of the net.
However, just four minutes after that and Stradbally’s Justin ‘Cookie’ Lalor produced another piece of magic. From a very similar position to his first goal, Lalor received the ball in midfield and struck another ferocious long-range effort past Comiskey in the net.
The drama just kept coming though. Only a minute after that goal went in, and Mountmellick were awarded another penalty. This one wasn’t as clear cut, but the referee deemed Colin Murphy to have fouled Shane O’Connell just inside the box. O’Connell stepped up again for the spot kick, but this time he blazed it over the bar.
Mountmellick did get a goal back twenty-seven minutes in though, this time from open play. Right back Ethan Lawlor fired what appeared to be unthreatening ball up field, but Keelan Barry at the back for Stradbally couldn’t control it and it went through to Mountmellick’s Shane Dowling, who capitalised by stroking home.
Mountmellick were only 3-2 down now but they were dealt a hammer blow half an hour into the match. Benny Lawlor again ran on to a pass over the top and Conor Comiskey in the Mountmellick net came out to try and clear the danger. Instead, Lawlor got the first touch and Comiskey took him clean out, just outside his box. The referee had no choice but to show red to the Mountmellick number one, and they were down to ten men.
There were no goals in the remainder of the half, but it was going to be an uphill struggle for Mountmellick in the second half to try and turn this one round.
Shane O’Connell and Oran Murphy had opportunities in the second half to bring this one to extra-time, but they could not find the net and Stradbally picked up a well-deserved trophy at the end of the ninety minutes.
Team: Wayne Comerford; Colin Beale, Keelan Barry, Noel Delaney, Colin Murphy; Liam Clancy, Justin Lalor, Cillian Maher, Damien Murphy; Padraig Fitzpatrick, Benny Lawlor. Subs: Jack Langton for Clancy (HT), Podge Dunne for Fitzpatrick (58 mins), Aaron Wright for Maher (81 mins), Connor Buggie for Lawlor (87 mins)
Team: Conor Comiskey: Robbie Hibbits, John Watchorne, Daragh Kelly, Ethan Lawlor; Mark Dowling, Shane O'Connell, Luke O'Connor; Oran Murphy, Mark Grennan, Shane Dowling. Subs: Rian Coss for O'Connor (31 mins), Justin Collins for Grennan (60 mins), Eoghan O'Riordan for Hibbits (79 mins)
REFEREE: Kevin Bryant
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