Portlaoise draw upon all their experience


Portlaoise 1-11 Emmet Óg 2-5Pre-match hot favourites Portlaoise had to call on all their years of experience to see off a gallant Longford side at rainswept Portlaoise yesterday. In 40 years of the competition no Longford side had ever won three games in Leinster but this young side went agonisingly close to doing so.

Portlaoise were slightly the better team in the opening quarter but only had three points to show for their endeavours. Paul Cahillane opened the scoring from a free and Barry Fitzgerald doubled their advantage. Brian Glynn had the first score from play after 13 minutes.

The visitors hit back as the previously watertight Portlaoise defence was badly caught and full forward Mark Hughes got inside and sprayed a great pass into the path of Denis McGoldrick who fired home to level the scores.

Portlaoise responded with two points in as many minutes from Conor Boyle and Brian McCormack to put two between the teams. Gangly midfielder Adrian Kelly restored his side’s three-point advantage but Killoe struck back in the closing minutes with two fine points by centre forward Ronan McGoldrick and they trailed by just a point, 0-6 to 1-2, at the interval.

From the throw-in in Hughes kicked over the equaliser and in the 34th minute Seán McCormack landed a massive point from a free to give the visitors the lead for the first time.

But Portlaoise hit back when Barry Fitzgerald made room then picked out Brian Smyth who fired home an important goal.

If the Longford champions were guilty of a defensive lapse then Portlaoise bettered it a minute later when Cahir Healy back passed to a defender but Hughes intervened and fed the inrushing midfielder Simon Kiernan who fisted past a helpless Mick Nolan and Emmet Óg were in front again after 41 minutes.

Glynn fed Adrian Kelly who equalised and Portlaoise nudged ahead with points from from Barry Fitzgerald and Cahir Healy after 52 minutes.

Daniel Mimnag’s point reduced the deficit but it was then Portlaoise showed their experience as they added a brace from Fitzgerald and Brian McCormack to secure a place in another final.

PORTLAOISE: M Nolan; T Fitzgerald, B Mulligan, C Healy (0-1); K Fitzpatrick, K Lillis, C Boyle (0-1); A Kelly (0-2), H Coghlan; C Rogers, B Fitzgerald (0-3), B Glynn (0-1); P Cahillane (0-1), B McCormack (0-2), B Smyth (1-0). Subs: S Nerney for C Boyle (50 mins) EMMET ÓG: C Burns; D Bennett, P McCormack, D Keogh; S Dowd, J McCormack, M Quinn; P Thompson, S Kiernan (1-0); D McGoldrick (1-0), R McGoldrick (0-2), D Mimnag (0-1); E Clarke, M Hughes (0-1), S McCormack (0-1). Subs: P Reilly for P Thompson (55 mins), P Hughes for D McGoldrick (54 mins). Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath).

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