While most eyes may have been glued to Sunday's Merseyside derby, a somewhat less illustrious derby was played out in Fr. Breen Park at the same time where Abbeyleix welcomed Ballyroan in the opening round of the CCFL Division 4 Cup and unlike Everton, the visitors here were able to hold on to secure a hard-fought win against their near-neighbours.
Gary Conroy was the hero when he timed his 73rd minute run perfectly to meet Kevin Burtenshaw's corner and glance a neat header across Abbeyleix keeper Ronan Purcell into the left-hand corner of the net and despite a late all-out onslaught the hosts could find no way past the well-organised Ballyroan defence with Sean Roswell and Tom Whelan forming an impenetrable centre-back partnership.
It was the home side who looked most likely scorers in the opening forty five but a combination of sloppy finishing and fine goalkeeping from Ballyroan's Trevor Phelan meant that the sides went in all square at the break.
Ballyroan managed to string together a couple of chances of their own after the interval but with neither sides attacking options looking up to scratch it seemed like extra-time was a certainty until Ballyroan finally nabbed the crucial goal. Ronan Purcell had excelled on more than one occasion before he acrobatically tipped Scott Conroy's vicious free-kick over the bar, but there was nothing Purcell could do when Gary Conroy got out in front of his man to direct Burtenshaw's low corner into the far corner to give his side the lead.
Conroy's goal came with just over fifteen minutes left and from then on Abbeyleix threw everything they had at the Ballyroan defence but some days you just know when a team is out of luck and with four minutes left both Brian Bergin and Darren Kelly were somehow denied by a fine save from Trevor Phelan and an outstanding Urs Burtenshaw block.
It was clearly one of those days for Abbeyleix and Ballyroan held on to secure the bragging rights and book their place in the next round.
ABBEYLEIX ATHLETIC 'B': Ronan Purcell, Colm Kelly, Tom Fitzpatrick, Declan Moran (Darren Whelan '82), Danny Burke, Brian Bergin, Danny Mills (Wayne Brennan '66), Willie Bowen (Darren Kelly '45), Adrian Stynes (Dan Coffey '45), Steven Mullins, Mark Fitzgerald (Conor Bergin '53).
BALLYROAN: Trevor Phelan, Sean Roswell, Killian Fitzpatrick (Kevin Burtenshaw '45), Tom Whelan, Gary Conroy, Christy Lalor, Gerry Scully (Ger Campbell '45), Jamie Whelan (Martin Scully '68), Paddy Lalor (John Moran '61), Scott Conroy, Urs Burtenshaw
Referee: Patsy Pardy
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