The Harps travelled to Mountrath on Sunday evening to play their first round of the championship against a Rosenallis side who were promoted from intermediate last season. The hosts to their credit had facilities in top order and the weather obliged also with clear skies, light breezes and warm conditions.
Rosenallis opened the scoring on the night with a pointed free and less than a minute later Eoin Clancy had the sides level with a point from play. The teams traded points again with a free from Michael Lanigan before Rosenallis equalised with a point from play. Michael Lanigan was on target again from a placed ball, however Rosenallis were keeping in touch and equalised soon after with a pointed free from Paddy Keating.
In the eighth minute The Harps were relieved to see a rasper of a shot from Rosenallis’ Ronan Murray come back off the post, but the rebound was collected and popped over the bar to give the Rosenallis men the lead. The Harps were guilty of some woeful shooting as they racked up five wides in the opening ten minutes, however Michael Lanigan scored a huge point from the middle of the field in the 11th minute.
Rosenallis then hit a purple patch – Peter Walsh was forced to make a great save as the Harps back line were at 6s and 7s. Rosenallis though, harried and were rewarded moments later when Ronan Murray cut through and smashed the ball to the net in the thirteenth minute. The Harps work rate improved over the following ten minutes and they scored points from Pat Walshe, Michael Lanigan (free), Richie Saunders and Eoin Clancy to take the lead once more.
Rosenallis equalised in the 24th minute with a point from play and on the stroke of half time The Harps scored a goal from the stick of John Brophy who was on the receiving end of a passage of good play from Eoin Clancy and Pat Walshe. The Harps 1-08 v 1-05 was the half time score.
The second half began with a point by Rosenallis’ keeper Steven Kelly from a placed ball which was answered by a point from play by Richie Saunders. Rosenallis though upped their work rate and began eating into The Harps’ three point lead with two points, one from play and one from a free to close the gap to just a point. At this stage, Daniel Comerford was substituted for his brother Ciaran as the management looked to strengthen the attack.
In the 41st minute Rosenallis were back level with a Paddy Keating point, however Podge Delaney was quick to respond with a point from play at the other end moments later. Rosenallis’ John lennon hit a fine point from play to bring the teams level yet again. Rosenallis were clearly gaining in confidence and hurled with passion to frustrate The Harps at every turn. It took five minutes for The Harps to respond with a point from play by John Brophy, but the lead was short lived as Ronan Kelly pointed twice for Rosenallis in the 49th and 50th minute to put the newly promoted Rosenallis ahead.
The final ten minutes of the game were nip and tuck – Rosenallis went three points in front with a free from Paddy Keating and a point from play by Fiachra Fennell. The Harps Podge Delaney cut the deficit to two in the 53rd minute before the management made two changes: Ronan Delahunty in for Conor Brophy and Brian Clancy in for Pat Walshe. Michael Lanigan pointed a free in the 57th minute to reduce the lead to one point yet again and The Harps looked like salvaging something from the game.
However, Rosenallis had other plans and extended their lead to two in the 58th minute with a point from play by John Lennon. Michael Lanigan managed to cut the lead to one yet again with a free, but Rosenallis were holding firm and held on to claim victory by the narrowest of margins. The full time score: The Harps 1-14 v 1-15 Rosenallis.
The Harps will get a second chance in this Championship and must await results elsewhere to see who they face in the next round.
The Harps: 1-Peter Walsh; 2-Gavin Dunne; 3-Packie Flynn; 4-Tommy Moore; 5-Conor Brophy; 6-Conor Dunne; 7-John Prior; 8-Shane Phelan; 9-Michael Lanigan; 10-Daniel Comerford; 11-Pat Walshe; 12-Richie Saunders; 13-Eoin Clancy; 14-John Brophy; 15-Podge Delaney.
Scorers: Michael Lanigan 0-06 (0-05f); John Brophy 1-01; Eoin Clancy 0-02; Richie Saunders 0-02; Podge Delaney 0-02; Pat Walshe 0-01.