Portlaoise 1-13 Ballyfin 0-7
Laois Shopping Centre JHC ‘C’ Final
Portlaoise claimed their first championship title of the year in O’Moore Park this evening when their Junior ‘C’ hurling team got the better of Ballyfin to claim county honours.
Portlaoise put a lot into this grade this year and despite a league final loss to The Harps earlier in the year, they bounced back with a string of wins in the championship.
For a player like Brian Mulligan, who has a number of senior county football medals, it was another for his collection. But it was also reward for long-serving club men like Tommy Mulligan, Niall Fitzpatrick, Derek Delaney, Darren Murphy and Sean Cotter. Former Leinster senior football-winning manager John Mulligan was also part of the backroom team, alongside Eugene Deegan, Jason Lalor and Seamus Fitzgerald.
Scores were hard to come in the opening half. Derek Delaney got Portlaoise off the mark after six minutes but that was instantly cancelled out by Sean Lowry, one of Ballyfin’s top men.
Lowry added a second in the 13th minute but a Derek Delaney free levelled things up for Portlaoise and then Michael Fogarty pounced for a well-taken goal – a score that was always going to be a big one in a low-scoring encounter.
Shane Conroy hit back with a couple of well-struck frees for Ballyfin but another Delaney free, a Brian Mulligan free and a flicked effort from Jack Dooley had Portlaoise 1-5 to 0-4 up at the break.
A lengthy stoppage in the second half to treat an injury to Portlaoise keeper James Brown delayed the game and although he had to be replaced by Ed O’Dwyer, thankfully he seemed to be ok.
Derek Delaney and Eoin Fitzpatrick nudged Portlaoise that bit further clearand although Shane Conroy responded with a ’65, Jack Dooley and Derek Delaney kept the scoreboard moving for The Town.
Ronan McGrath responded for Ballyfin but Diarmuid Lalor came up from centre-back for an inspirational score and any late hopes of a Ballyfin comeback were ended when O’Dwyer pulled off a brilliant save on Shane Conroy.
Tommy Mulligan and Denis Kavanagh got late points for Portlaoise while the last score of the game was a long-range effort from Ballyfin’s Ronan McGrath.
SCORERS – Portlaoise: Derek Delaney 0-6 (two frees), Michael Fogarty 1-0, Jack Dooley 0-2, Brian Mulligan 0-1 (free), Tommy Mulligan 0-1 (free), Diarmuid Lalor 0-1, Eoin Fitzpatrick 0-1, Denis Kavanagh 0-1. Ballyfin: Shane Conroy 0-3 (two frees, one ’65), Ronan McGrath 0-2, Sean Lowry 0-2
PORTLAOISE: James Brown; Brian Seale, Darren Murphy, James Grennan; Sean Cotter, Diarmuid Lalor, Brian Devaney; Brian Mulligan, Tommy Mulligan; Tristan Tobin, Derek Delaney, Niall Fitzpatrick, Jack Dooley, Michael Fogarty. Subs: Denis Kavanagh for N Fitzpatrick (35), Ed O’Dwyer for Brown (injured – 38), Jeff Phelan for Grennan (41), Cian Dowling-Byrne for Fogarty (47), Mark Mulligan for Seale (63), Jamie Dooley for Tobin (63), Kieran Drea for E Fitzpatrick (63), Paul Shalloe for Dooley (65) Michael Nerney for Devaney (65), Darragh Carey for Cotter (65), Stephen Phelan for Kavanagh (67), James Timmons for T Mulligan (68)
BALLYFIN: Paul Dunne; Paul Connolly, Brian Dowling, Cillian Rowney; Ciaran Fingleton, Dermot McGill, Ciaran Rowney; Adam Walsh, Alan Strong; Shane Conroy, Sean Lowry, Paddy Hyland; Matt Lalor, Dan Molloy, Ronan McGrath. Sub: Cillian Dunphy for Lalor (28), Gary Molloy for Hyland (38), Aidan Heffernan for Conroy (57), John Downey for Connolly (61)
REFEREE: Padraig Dunne (Colt)