Portlaoise rarely troubled by Garrycastle
Portlaoise 1-9 Garrycastle 1-5:Portlaoise ran out convincing winners of the Leinster senior football championship, even if the scoreboard didn’t suggest as much against Westmeath’s Garrycastle in Tullamore.
The Laois side were three points ahead within six minutes and never relinquished the lead despite losing Peter McNulty to a second yellow card before half-time.
Craig Rogers set them on their way with two early scores and as the sores flowed for Portlaoise only Paul Dillon responded for the Westmeath club.
Dessie Dolan was not allowed to have the influence on proceedings he has enjoyed for much of Garrycastle’s season but they did come back into it in the second quarter, when Seanie O’Donoghue (2) and Dillon pointed.
Paul Callihane stretched the lead before the break and ahead of McNulty’s dismissal after a late tackle on a Garrycastle defender.
Dolan then changed the mood after the break when his high ball was fisted into the net by his brother Gary, cutting the deficit to one point.
To their credit, Portlaoise responded immediately when a clever ball over the top from captain Brian McCormack afforded Barry Fitzgerald time and space to hit the net.
Fitzgerald, in fact, scored every one of Portlaoise’s second half scores, totalling 1-2, while the Westmeath team struggled. Opportunities fell short and were kicked wide – or on occasion not seen quickly enough – as they tried and failed to close the gap.