Brought to you in association with Crown Paints Portlaoise
Portlaoise 3-13 Arles-Kilcruise 1-14
Laois Shopping Centre Senior Football Championship Round 1
Championship favourites Portlaoise got their senior campaign off to a winning start with a win over Arles-Kilcruise.
Manager Malachy McNulty gave debuts to Frank Flanagan and Benny Carroll and his side looked like they were going to run away with things in the first half as they led by 12 points at one stage.
But Johnny Irwin’s Kilcruise mounted a serious comeback in the second half and provided the Town with a real test.
The game was less than 90 seconds old when Portlaoise took the lead as Scott Lawless swung over a free.
Paul Cahillane then kicked a 45 and Portlaoise’s good start continued as Benny Carroll, in for his senior debut in place of Brian Mulligan, won a kick-out and fed Lawless who beat Cialann Mulhall for pace before squeezing a shot through Ken Kealy’s legs.
Gareth Dillon kicked another point for Portlaoise and although Kilcruise finally got off the mark via Chris and David Conway – worse was to come for them.
Paul Cahillane landed a brace before The Town’s second goal arrived at the midpoint of the half. Gareth Dillon won a loose ball in midfield and released Benny Carroll who capped his debut with a neat finish into the far corner.
Adrian Kelly extended the lead out to 10 points before we had Portlaoise’s third goal. This came at the end of a flowing handpassing move where Scott Lawless popped it to the back post and Cahillane was there to score at the back post.
In fairness to Kilcruise, they made a game of it for what remained in the first half. Portlaoise points from Gareth Dillon, David Holland, Conor Dunphy and Kelly were cancelled out by Munnelly and Chris Conway before they ended with a goal.
Fran Egan surged forward and cleverly played a pinpoint pass to Dermot Nolan who shot low beneath the advancing Graham Brody to leave it reading 3-10 to 1-5 at half time.
Arles-Kilcruise needed to make a good start to the second half and they did as Ross Munnelly kicked three points in as many minutes.
Kieran Lillis, who became Portlaoise’s eight different scorer, responded but Munnelly landed a fourth to leave eight between them.
And the gap was back to seven with 20 minutes to play as David Conway played a high ball into the square and Dermot Nolan flicked it over.
Kilcruise kept turning Portlaoise over and another counter attack resulted in a second point for Nolan to leave six in it with a quarter of the game to go.
Paul Cahillane stemmed the tide with a much needed free for Portlaoise but Munnelly responded with another for Kilcruise.
Benny Carroll put seven in it again with ten minutes to play and you felt that Kilcruise needed a goal if they were going to have any chance of drawing level.
But the best they could muster were frees from Chris Conway and Ross Munnelly as Portlaoise won by five.
SCORERS – PORTLAOISE: Scott Lawless 1-1 (0-1 frees), Paul Cahillane 1-4 (0-2 frees), Benny Carroll 1-1 Gareth Dillon 0-2, Adrian Kelly 0-2, David Holland 0-1, Conor Dunphy 0-1, Kieran Lillis 0-1 ARLES-KILCRUISE: Chris Conway 0-3 (0-3 frees), Dermot Nolan 1-2, David Conway 0-1, Ross Munnelly 0-8 (0-4 frees)
PORTLAOISE: Graham Brody; David Seale, Frank Flanagan, David Holland; Kieran Lillis, Conor Boyle, Chris Finn; Adrian Kelly, Ciarán McEvoy; Conor Dunphy, Benny Carroll, Gareth Dillon; Paul Cahillane, Brian McCormack, Scott Lawless. Subs: John Kavanagh for Dunphy (40mins), Shane Smyth for Kelly (47mins), Kevin Fitzpatrick for McCormack (54mins), Brian Mulligan for Finn (54mins), Ricky Maher for Carroll (60mins), Adrian Kelly for Boyle (62mins, black card)
ARLES-KILCRUISE: Ken Kealy; Cialann Mulhall, Seán Meaney, Anthony McElroy; Caomhan Brennan, Colm Munnelly, Mark Wall; Kevin Meaney, Dermot Nolan; Ross Munnelly, David Conway, Ciarán Lawlor; JP Conway, Fran Egan, Chris Conway. Subs Aidan Brennan for McElroy (ht), Brendan Conway for Lawlor (54mins)
Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Courtwood)