‘Blast from the Past’: Season 2009/10
Rosenallis 4 ( D. McEvoy 47′, 79′ K. Conroy 55′, 88′ ) Hayward Celtic 2 ( I. Lawlor 71′, 84′ )
At last; the joy of watching a contest between two Laois sides at the ‘right end’ of a league table for once! A big crowd saw leaders Hayward arrive at ‘The Grove’ hoping for that last push for a victory that would secure a league title for the second season running. Rosenallis; in second spot, also needed the win to keep up their fight for that second spot and automatic promotion. With third-placed Monksland United pressing hard on their heels Rosenallis couldn’t afford any slip-up here and allow the Athlone side overtake them. In the event the Slieve Bloom-based side won through though not before a determined Hayward fightback caused them some nervy moments late on.
The opening half saw almost nothing between the sides as both sides tackled and chased with scarcely-disguised glee. Oh how a ‘derby’ infuses sides with energy so close to season’s end. Slowly but surely though the home side began to win the fifty-fifty collisions around the park. Marcus Redmond and Patrick Keating were a forceful presence early on for Rosenallis as the two ‘young guns’ thundered into challenge after challenge. A Darren McEvoy free whistled narrowly wide as Rosenallis edged ever closer to an opening goal. Then the visitors replied through an Emmet Healion free that Damian Shelly did well to hang onto. Ivan Lawlor then kept up Hayward’s assault when coming agonisingly close to a lead goal for the visiting side. Again though Shelly did well to hang on. A deft Lawlor backheel threatened to unlock the home defence soon after. Again though the Rosenallis defence held out and when the hosts broke forward on the counter it took a thunderous Eddie Flanagan challenge to keep his goal intact.
With Rosenallis now edging the exchanges in the middle of the park Donal Lawlor was next in line to test Brendan Dalton in the Hayward goals. Sadly for the hosts the midfielder dragged his shot narrowly wide. Dalton then proceeded to launch a huge kickout that Ivan Lawlor got on the end of. The visitor’s star striker couldn’t steer his shot on target however. Kenny Farrell then responded for the home side but his volley was smothered by Dalton. As the half petered out by sides were still hammering away looking for that all-important lead goal.
The concluding half opened in electric fashion. A superb Mark Dunne cross had the home side backtracking but it eluded all bar Redmond. His surge upfield saw Rosenallis awarded a free. Veteran Friel floated in the setpiece and Kieran Conroy won the flick on in the air. Darren McEvoy; reacting brightly, race goalward and headed just inside the nearpost for the game’s opening goal
Hayward’s reply took no time in arriving as substitute Peter Ging missed by inches after a great ball forward from Paul Dunne. Then a superb piece of Steven McEvoy defending twarted Hayward once again. Rosnenallis broke forward once again and John McLoughlin somehow got on the end of Keating’s miscued pass. He threaded the ball through to the onrushing Conroy who fired his venomous shot home to double his side’s lead.
Hayward didn’t wave a white flag and rallied in spectacular style however. A period of sustained pressure yielded a ‘comeback’ goal as the tall figure of striker Lawlor got his head on an incoming free and flicked home Hayward’s first goal. With the deficit down to the minimum both sides seemed to find another gear as they tore into each other. Healion fired a free narrowly over while a Friel free at the other end saw Brian Cosgrove bundle the ball away to safety. Another Rosenallis setpiece soon after saw the hosts double their lead again however. Dalton spilled the ball as it soared into his area and McEvoy was on hand to slide it home at the backpost.
Hayward recovered almost immediately however and Paul Dunne’s ball over the top forced the hosts into conceding a corner. Then a even longer ball forward saw Shelly miss with his punch and Ivan Lawlor was on hand to hook the ball over the Rosenallis cover and into the gaping goals. Amazingly the pace of this frenetic game never slackened as it entered the final five minutes. With Hayward pouring forward for an equaliser Rosenallis came agonisingly close to the ‘insurance’ score. Farrell’s ball in was defended brilliantly by Mark Dunne. Alas for the valiant visitors the resultant corner was powered into the back of the net courtesy of a Kieran Conroy header. Try as Hayward did there was little time remaining to pull back a two-goal deficit once again.
For the delighted victors Marcus Redmond and Patrick Keating shone in defence especially in an evenly-contested first half. The example of those youngsters fired up their side to ‘take down’ the league leaders in the second half. Darren McEvoy and Kieran Conroy combined well up front and gave the Hayward defence a torrid time. For Hayward Ivan Lawlor took his goals well and Paul Dunne contributed a lot through the middle. Hayward’s pain will be short-lived one suspects as one more win will see them crowned as champions.
Rosenallis FC: Damian Shelly; Steve McEvoy, Marcus Redmond, John McLoughlin, Patrick Keating; Paul Friel, Donal Lawlor, Kenny Farrell, Mark Graham;Darren McEvoy, Kieran Conroy Subs Used: John Lawlor, Martin Dooley, John Byrne, Niall Doolin
Hayward Celtic: Brendan Dalton; Emmet Healion, Brian Cosgrove, Derek Conroy, Paul Harding; Paul Hibbitts, Eddie Flanagan, Paul Dunne, John Molloy; Mark Dunne, Ivan Lawlor Subs: Joseph Lambe, Peter Ging, Kevin Healion, Stephen Breen
Match Official: Tony Ward ( Offaly Branch IRSR ) Mr. Ward deserves a lot of credit for keeping the game flowing and being a little circumspect in dealing with some robust challenges. After all he and the crowd expected and got tough but fair exchanges throughout this pulsating ‘derby’ game