Mar 252018

Fintan Deegan encourages the team.

Fr Breen Park was the venue for this opening round of the Laois GAA Hurling League Division 1 encounter between The Harps and Abbeyleix. Weather conditions were dry throughout with the sunshine breaking through at times and this encouraged a good travelling support for the visitors to Abbeyleix for the 4pm throw-in. Abbeyleix though got a dream start when a long range ball was broken down in the square and pulled on to beat Peter Walsh to the net inside the first two minutes. Abbeyleix followed their green flag major with a point to open up a four point lead inside the first five minutes. 

It took The Harps nine minutes to open their account when Ciaran Comerford fired over from forty yards and then The Harps began to settle and in the tenth minute Podge Delaney fired over a long range free to cut the deficit to two points. The Harps were now taking firm control of the game, putting together clinical passing moves and this resulted in John Boggy Brophy blasting a fine goal just twelve minutes in. The Harps 1-02 v 1-01 Abbeyleix.

For the rest of the first half, The Harps totally dominated proceedings and stretched their lead with six further points – Shane Fitzpatrick, Richie Saunders and John Brophy all pointing from play while Ciaran Comerford popped over three placed balls. Abbeyleix could only manage two pointed frees in the second quarter of the game and this left the match at 1-08 to 1-03 on the stroke of half time.

The second half opened with a flurry of scores, an Abbeyleix point from play was responded to in kind by John Brophy and Ciaran Comerford. Indeed Comerford was on hand to follow up with two further points – both frees, followed by an Abbeyleix free to leave the score at 1-12 to 1-06 just ten minutes into this second half. Arguably the score of the game came in the 40th minute when Richie Saunders put over a superb point from a sideline cut much to the appreciation of the following supporters: 1-13 to 1-06.

The middle ten minutes of the second half was pretty much a battle of the free takers with Ciaran Comerford popping over two, only for these to be responded to by Abbeyleix maintaining the scoring difference. Into the final ten minutes, Ciaran Comerford and John Brophy both landed points from play, however these were cancelled out by Abbeyleix frees. As full time approached, a stoppage in play owing to a heavy knock to Ciaran Comerford resulted in six minutes of additional time. In this period, Abbeyleix outscored the Harps three points to one (Podge Delaney free) to reduce the deficit to five points – The Harps 1-18 v 1-13 Abbeyleix at full time.

Overall The Harps can be happy with their opening game – dominating for long spells of the match and stringing together some good passages of play. The Harps welcome Portlaoise to Durrow next Easter Sunday at 2pm for the second round of this Division 1 League whilst best wishes is extended to Ciaran Comerford who picked up a nasty knock in today’s game.

The Harps: 1 – Peter Walsh; 2 – Shane Phelan; 3 – Conor Dunne; 4 – David Doheny; 5 – John Prior; 6 – Padraig Delaney; 7 – Daniel Comerford; 8 – Shane Fitzpatrick; 9 – Ronan Delahunty; 10 – Pauric Dunne; 11 – Richie Saunders; 12 – Ciaran Comerford; 13 – John Brophy; 14 – Pat Walshe; 15 – Conor Deegan.

Subs: 44mins off: Padraic Dunne on: Michael Lanigan; 55mins off: Conor Deegan on: Conor Brophy; 59 mins (blood sub) Ciaran Comerford on: Owen Doheny.

Scorers: Ciaran Comerford 0-09 (0-07f); John Brophy 1-03; Richie Saunders 0-02 (0-01sc); Shane Fitzpatrick 0-01.

Abbeyleix: 1-13 (0-09f).