Portlaoise 3-13 Ballylinan 0-10
Laois Shopping Centre Senior Football Championship Final
Portlaoise recovered from a slow start to claim the Jack Delaney Cup for the 33rd time in O’Moore Park this afternoon.
Malachy McNulty’s charges were three points down midway through the first half but scored two goals before half time to take control.
From there, in awful conditions with a heavy mist falling throughout the game, Portlaoise held possession for long periods and just kept themselves ahead.
The game was just two minutes old when we had the first score with Gary Walsh converting a free for Ballylinan after he had been fouled.
Paul Cahillane went close with Portlaoise’s first meaningful attack a minute later but his low shot rattled the side netting.
Portlaoise were then guilty of kicking two more wides before Larry Kealy broke a ball down to Gary Walsh and he smashed it over the bar.
It took Portlaoise nine minutes to score but a fisted Ciarán McEvoy effort finally raised a white flag.
Walsh converted his second free and although Scott Lawless hit back for Portlaoise, an outrageous point from the same Ballylinan player after a brilliant pass from Pádraig McEvoy had them 0-4 to 0-2 ahead.
And the gap was three points by the midpoint of the half after Alan Farrell intercepted a Portlaoise kick out and soloed through before scoring.
Paul Cahillane hit back with his firsts core of the afternoon from a free for Portlaoise but Ballylinan kept scoring and Andy McEvoy became the latest to curl one over from distance.
However the sides were level after 20 minutes. A slip at the back allowed Adrian Kelly through and he combined with Benny Carroll to set up Scott Lawless for the game’s opening goal.
And The Town were ahead for the first time a minute later when Paul Cahillane converted his second free.
The same player then turned Kevin Byrne inside out to score his first from play before Portlaoise got their second goal in controversial circumstances.
Ballylinan were on the attack when referee John Flynn accidentally body checked Cathail Dunne. The ball came to Gareth Dillon who fed Brian McCormack and his pinpoint pass came to Paul Cahillane who cut inside and rattled the net.
McCormack then split the posts to make it 2-3 without reply before Cathail Dunne finally lifted the siege with another impressive point from distance.
That left it 2-6 to 0-7 at half time but a Gary Walsh free on the resumption of play cut the gap to four points.
Adrian Kelly restored Portlaoise’s five point lead and the gap was six as we entered the final quarter thanks to Conor Boyle.
Ballylinan continued to turn the ball over in Portlaoise’s half and when Paul Cahillane took his tally to 1-4, the game looked over with ten minutes to play.
Gary Walsh kept the fight going with a free but Benny Carroll instantly put seven in it again.
Portlaoise got caught late on last by Stradbally but there was no fear of that happening today as late points from Cahillane and Conor Boyle put a gloss on the scoreline.
And Portlaoise had a third goal in them before the end as Paul Cahillane breezed through and unselfishly laid off the ball to John Kavanagh who scored.
Gary Walsh kicked the final point but Portlaoise finished 12 point winners in the end.
SCORERS – PORTLAOISE: Paul Cahillane 1-6 (0-4 frees), Scott Lawless 1-1, John Kavanagh 1-0, Ciarán McEvoy 0-1, Brian McCormack 0-1, Adrian Kelly 0-1, Conor Boyle 0-2, Benny Carroll 0-1 BALLYLINAN: Gary Walsh 0-7 (0-5 frees), Alan Farrell 0-1, Andy McEvoy 0-1, Cathail Dunne 0-1
PORTLAOISE: Graham Brody; Frank Flanagan, Kieran Lillis, David Holland; Conor Dunphy, Brian Mulligan, Chris Finn; Adrian Kelly, Ciarán McEvoy; Benny Carroll, Conor Boyle, Gareth Dillon; Brian McCormack, Paul Cahillane, Scott Lawless. Subs: David Seale for Dunphy (23mins), Brian Smyth for Lawless (45mins), Shane Smyth for Kelly (55mins), Dean Cullen for McEvoy (58mins), John Kavanagh for McCormack (58mins), Paddy Downey for Mulligan (58mins)
BALLYLINAN: Aidan Walsh; Cathal Leonard, Dermot Leonard, Kevin Byrne; Alan Farrell, Richie Ryan, James Redmond; Jamie Farrell, Pádraig McEvoy; Seamus Lacey, Cieran Farrell, Larry Kealy; Cathail Dunne, Gary Walsh, Andy McEvoy. Subs: Robbie Donoher for Kealy (ht), Conor Behan for D Leonard (35mins), Eric Kenna for Redmond (49mins), John Kealy for Lacey (53mins), Ciarán Fennessy for A McEvoy (57mins)
Referee: John Flynn (The Rock)