A Sean Murphy goal three minutes into the second half set Abbeylara on their way to claiming the Reserve Football League Division 1 title in glorious sunshine at Maguire Park, Ballinalee on Sunday last.
Abbeylara had held a four point advantage when Murphy found the back of the net. Now seven points in arrears, that goal really finished off the Fr. Manning Gaels challenge in a rather one-sided final.
The Gaels came up against an excellent Abbeylara side who dominated from start to finish with centre-half-back Cormac Smyth, in particular, immense throughout the game.
It was an even opening twenty minutes of the game with the scores level on three occasions. James Breslin opened the scoring in the 4th minute but Jason Kelly replied for Abbeylara one minute later.
Michael Mulleady edged the Gaels back in front with a nice point in the 8th minute but Abbeylara were again on level terms six minutes later with a score from Eugene Lynch.
The Gaels restored their lead two minutes later with a free from the boot of Peter Collum but that was to be their last score for 19 minutes of play as Abbeylara asserted control.
Jason Kelly levelled matters again in the 20th minute from a free after Mark Sheridan was fouled. Sheridan turned provider for Kelly four minutes later as Abbeylara took the lead for the first time and Kelly (free) was again on target in the 27th minute.
The Drumlish/Ballinamuck outfit were being completely over-run and offered little resistance as Abbeylara played some lovely football. Their passing was precise and they created several scoring chances. Two fine efforts from Brian Smyth just before half-time gave Abbeylara a four point advantage going in at the break, 0-7 to 0-3.
It was going to be tough for the Gaels to get back into the game such was the Abbeylara dominance and with three minutes gone on the changeover the deficit was seven points when Sean Murphy drove a low shot past opposing keeper Paddy Collum after good play from Cormac Smyth. Smyth was a rock in defence but also got forward when the opportunity arose.
David Collum got the Gaels first score of the second half in the 35th minute. Substitute David Cassidy was just on the pitch when he got his name on the scoresheet in the 38th minute but that was to be the losers last score of the game.
Two frees from the boot of the prominent Jason Kelly (who ended up with 0-7 to his credit) and another fine effort from Brian Smyth put Abbeylara ahead by nine points with still a quarter of the game to be played. Two more points in quick succession from Sean Murphy and James McEntire stretched that advantage entering the final 10 minutes.
Although the Gaels had chances they failed to register any scores in the closing stages and were unable to engineer the goal they so badly needed. Six minutes from the end Eugene Lynch got the final score of the game as Abbeylara ran out emphatic winners.
ABBEYLARA: Damien O’Connor; James McHugh, Liam Reilly, Barry Smyth; Padraig Battrim, Cormac Smyth, Colm Dalton; Eamon Gallagher, James McEntire (0-1); Jason Kelly (0-7, four frees), Mickey O’Connor, Brian Smyth (0-3); Sean Murphy (1-1), Mark Sheridan, Eugene Lynch (0-2)
Subs:- Michael McHugh for C Dalton (injured, 11 mins); Padraic Rabbitte for Brian Smyth (51 mins); Adrian Kelly for E Lynch (56 mins); Stephen McHugh for S Murphy and Colin Sheridan for E Gallagher (58 mins).
FR. MANNING GAELS: Paddy Collum; Michael Kane, Cian Brady, Kieran Cooney; Sean Diffley, Gary Brady, Darren Reilly; John Fitzpatrick, Sean Whelan; Emmet Collum, James Breslin (0-1), Paul Farrelly; Peter Collum (0-1, free), Michael Mulleady (0-1), Darren Farrelly.
Subs:- David Collum (0-1) for K Cooney (injured, 13 mins); David Cassidy
(0-1) for D Reilly (37 mins); Robbie Reehill for E Collum (38 mins).
Referee: Patrick Maguire (Granard St. Mary’s).