Portlaoise 4-15 Portarlington 0-8
Laois Shopping Centre ACFL Division 1A
It’s only April and it’s only the league but the gap between Portlaoise and the rest of the county is as wide as ever if the evidence of their 19-point win over Portarlington in Rathleague is anything to go by.
Port enjoyed their best season in years in 2017 and by reaching their first senior semi-final since 2002 and following it up by claiming the minor and U-21 titles, they can justifiably be regarded as the second best team in Laois with an exciting and improving young team.
But they’ve still quite a bit to go following this chastening defeat. While neither side were at full strength, both fielded decent teams.
Port played with the wind in the opening half and competed relatively well, but Portlaoise were always on top and were creating scoring chances with alarming ease.
Ronan Coffey put Port into an early lead but points from Conor Boyle, John Kavanagh and Gareth Dillon got The Town into a lead they’d never surrender.
Adam Ryan and Coffey pointed either side of a Paul Cahillane point but another from Conor Boyle and then a goal from Cahillane had Portlaoise 1-5 to 0-3 clear.
They exhanged points from there to the end of the half with Colin Finn – who kicked three points in total from centre-back – Cahillane and Kieran Lillis all on target for Portlaoise and Coffey, Ryan and Colm Murphy scoring for Port.
At half-time Portlaoise led 1-8 to 0-6.
Bruno McCormack came on for Paul Cahillane at half time and he was involved instantly, winning a good ball and setting up Boyle for the third of his four points.
Another Finn point put Portlaoise seven up and then Jason Maher did well to set Bruno up for his first goal of the night.
Gareth Dillon got in for their third a minute later after quick hands from Ronan McEvoy and sub Dean Lynch also got up from defence to swing over a nice point.
Jake Foster did reply for Port but McEvoy, Finn, Dillon and Boyle all pointed. Coffey got another free for Port but the last say went to Bruno who got his second goal – this time with his lesser-used right foot – to seal a 19-point win.
There’s another full round of games fixed for this coming Thursday – the last for a while when county players will be available – with Portlaoise making the short trip to Stradbally and Port at home to Ballylinan.
SCORERS – Portlaoise: Bruno McCormack 2-0, Paul Cahillane and Gareth Dillon 1-2 each, Conor Boyle 0-4, Colin Finn 0-3, Kieran Lillis, Dean Lynch, Ronan McEvoy and John Kavanagh 0-1 each. Portarlington: Ronan Coffey 0-4 (three frees), Adam Ryan 0-2, Colm Murphy and Jake Foster 0-1 each
PORTLAOISE: Graham Brody; Michael Dowling, Gary Saunders, Beano McCormack; Chris Finn, Colin Finn, Paddy Downey; Ciaran McEvoy, Kieran Lillis; Ronan McEvoy, Conor Boyle, Gareth Dillon; Paul Cahillane, John Kavanagh, Jason Maher. Subs: Dean Cullen for C McEvoy (injured – 15), Bruno McCormack for Cahillane (HT), Scott Lawless for J Maher (38), Dean Lynch for Downey (46), Aaron Rafter for Lillis (54)
PORTARLINGTON: Gary Lanigan; Alex Mohan, Cathal Ryan, Diarmuid Bennett; Colin Slevin, Paddy O’Sullivan, Robert Pigott; Adam Ryan, Graham Weldon; Steven Lyons, David Murphy, Hayden Weldon; Jason Ward, Colm Murphy, Ronan Coffey. Subs: Jonathan Fulham for G Weldon (20), Jake Foster for Lyons (42), Eoin Kennedy for Pigott (50), Evan Lyons for Ward (50)
REFEREE: David Moore (St Joseph’s)