Portarlington 1-15 Stradbally 2-9
Laois Shopping Centre ACFL Division 1A Round 1
Newly promoted Portarlington made a winning start to life in the top tier of Laois league football with a three point win over Stradbally in McCann Park.
Noel Coss and Des Cooney’s side made a slow start but recovered well with Evan Lyons’ second half goal proving crucial.
Both sides were without the majority of the county men, but Tom Shiel (Stradbally) and Colm Murphy (Portarlington) were released to play – indicating they will not be involved against Carlow on Sunday for Laois.
Stradbally opened the scoring in damp conditions in McCann Park thanks to a brace from Tom Shiel.
Portarlington responded via Colm Murphy and although Shiel soon had a third, the sides were level after eight minutes as David Murphy joined his brother on the scoresheet.
Stradbally had a golden chance to regain the lead in ther 13th minute when Conor Delaney was pulled down in the penalty area and referee Joe Brennan spread his arms.
Wayne Comerford stepped up but his effort sailed over Scott Osbourne’s crossbar.
Portarlington gave adult debuts to Osbourne, Colin Slevin, Alex Mohan and Ronan Coffey but it was one of their returning stars, Adam Ryan, who regained parity.
And that led to a flurry with Colm and David Murphy raising white flags as Portarlington moved three clear.
Liam Knowles responded for Stradbally but further Portarlington points from Evan Lyons and David Murphy sent the home team in ahead by 0-9 to 0-5.
Stradbally began the second half with three straight wides but Eamon Conlon and Tom Shiel eventually cut the gap to two.
Evan Lyons responded for Portarlington but Stradbally were level after 39 minutes when a free from Tom Shiel was swung invitingly towards the goal and Jack Deegan rose highest to palm it in.
Nevertheless, Portarlington responded well. David Murphy kicked another point before a brilliant run from Adam Ryan set up Evan Lyons for a goal to put four between them as we entered the final quarter.
Tom Shiel and Colm Murphy traded frees before Stradbally reduced the margin to the minimum again with seven minutes to play.
Once again, the Portarlington defence failed to deal with a high ball and Wayne Comerford made amends for his earlier penalty miss to raise a green flag.
It remained so as we entered the last three minutes after Portarlington substitute Jason Ward and Stradbally’s Podge Fitzpatrick swapped points.
But Portarlington had more left in the tank and two late points from David Murphy saw them over the line for a first win.
SCORERS – Portarlington: David Murphy and Colm Murphy 0-5 each Evan Lyons 1-2, Jason Ward, Adam Ryan and Jake Foster 0-1 each Stradbally: Tom Shiel 0-5, Wayne Comerford 1-1 (0-1 pen), Jack Deegan 1-0, Eamon Conlon, Podge Fitzpatrick and Liam Knowles 0-1 each
PORTARLINGTON: Scott Osbourne; Eoin Kennedy, Diarmuid Bennett, Alex Mohan; Colin Slevin, Graham Weldon, Adam Ryan; Paddy O’Sullivan, Cathal Ryan; Stephen Lyons, David Murphy, Ronan Coffey; Jake Foster, Colm Murphy, Evan Lyons. Subs: Jason Ward, Hayden Weldon, Chris Booth
STRADBALLY: Jack Larkin; Colin Beale, Jamie Kavanagh, Liam Clancy; Eamon Conlon, Liam Knowles, Damien Murphy; Darren Maher, Jack Deegan; Podge Fitzpatrick, Tom Shiel, Charlie O’Brien; Liam Clancy, Wayne Comerford, Conor Delaney
Referee: Joe Brennan (Crettyard)