Graiguecullen 0-9 Portlaoise 1-16
Laois Shopping Centre SFC Round 2 Winners
Can anyone stop Portlaoise? It’s the perennial question in Laois football and as The Town seek to retain their title and an 11th in 12 years, it’s looking as unlikely as ever following this evening’s action in O’Moore Park.
Graiguecullen are generally one of the possible challengers but despite their best efforts and an encouraging opening 20 minutes, this was a game that was over at half-time.
Portlaoise are just so difficult to contain. You’ll hold them for so long or you’ll keep some of their marquee men quiet but eventually the pressure will tell. As always it’s a case of too many fires and not enough firemen.
After 24 minutes, Portlaoise led 0-5 to 0-4 and it was a decent enough contest. In the next seven minutes, Portlaoise hit 1-6 without reply. At half time it was 1-11 to 0-4. Ten points in it. Job done. Game over.
The chief architects of tonight’s win were two of their longest serving players – Brian McCormack at full forward and Craig Rogers at centre. McCormack, by our count, is in his 20th season playing senior football, Rogers in his 16th. Between them they have 24 county medals – and in the opening half, they scored 1-9 between them.
Rogers hit three in a row early on, the pick of them a sweet left-footed effort. McCormack scored 1-5 of Portlaoise’s 1-6 in that burst before the break. As well as a couple of lovely points from play he also palmed home their 31st minute goal after delightful ball was floated in by Benny Carroll. Scott Lawless contributed their other two points.
Of course the other element of Portlaoise’s evening was the return of Cahir Healy to the starting team after than more than a year out injured – and the efficient marking job done by Kieran Lillis on Aaron Forbes, star man in Graigue’s Round 1 win over O’Dempsey’s.
For Graigue, who were beaten by Portlaoise in last year’s final, their first-half points came from Danny Bolger and Jamie Parr frees as well as points from play from Brian Byrne and midfielder Paul Mulready.
Graigue battled on honestly in the second half but Portlaoise always had their measure. Rogers added a fourth point, Lawless kicked a third and Carroll, Chris Finn and Kieran Lillis all pointed as well.
Graigue added five points too – four of them frees – with their only effort from play coming from defender Trevor Collins.
Portlaoise now go forward to another quarter-final. Graigue go into Round 3.
But the question remains the same. Can anyone stop Portlaoise?
SCORERS – Portlaoise: Brian McCormack 1-6 (0-3 frees), Craig Rogers 0-4, Scott Lawless 0-3 (one free), Kieran Lillis 0-1, Benny Carroll 0-1, Chris Finn 0-1. Graiguecullen: Jamie Parr 0-2 (both frees), Danny Bolger 0-2 (one free, one ’45), Brian Byrne 0-2 (one free), Trevor Collins 0-1, Paul Mulready 0-1, Ross Hennnessy 0-1 (free)
GRAIGUECULLEN: Danny Bolger; Bobby Doyle, Mark Timmons, Martin Doyle; Luke Alsybury, Jimmy Bolton, Trevor Collins; Shane O’Neill, Paul Mulready, Jamie Sheehan, Jamie Parr, Dean Malone; Aaron Forbes, Brian Byrne, Ross Hennessy. Subs: Tunde Ogunfowora for Bolton (injured – 15), Danny Alsybury for Malone (HT), Lee Timmons for Parr (44), Alan Coleman for Mulready (53), Liam Kearney for Doyle (58)
PORTLAOISE: Graham Brody; Gary Saunders, David Seale, Kieran Lillis; Chris Finn, Cahir Healy, Colin Finn; Ciaran McEvoy, Conor Boyle; Gareth Dillon, Craig Rogers, Benny Carroll; Ricky Maher, Brian McCormack, Scott Lawless. Subs: David Holland for Chris Finn (40), Bryan Smith for McCormack (44), Conor Dunphy for Rogers (injured – 58)
REFEREE: David Moore (St Joseph’s)
SEE ALSO – O’Carroll and Murphy inspire Crettyard to win over Ballyfin