Portlaoise 1-13 The Harps 1-11
Laois Shopping Centre SHC ‘A’ Final
Portlaoise have been crowned Laois SHC ‘A’ champions for the second time in four years following a win over favourites The Harps in O’Moore Park this afternoon.
It means an instant return to the top table of Laois club hurling following their relegation last year but The Harps’ long wait for silverware goes on following another disappointing outing to the county grounds. They’ll also play in the second tier for a third year running.
Portlaoise’s triumph marks an impressive turnaround on what started out as a disappointing campaign. Relegation from the league was followed by defeats in the opening two rounds of the championship but wins over Trumera, Shanahoe Gaels and Clonaslee brought them to the final and they delivered when the pressure was on.
The first half was an incredibly attritional affair. There was a couple of flare ups, big hits and two Portlaoise lads went off with blood injuries.
The strong breeze favoured The Harps in the opening half but Portlaoise hurled and battled well.
Keith Murphy got the scoring underway with a nice point from play within 30 seconds but long-serving Harps men Michael Lanigan and John Brophy hit back straight away.
Cormac Rigney – on the frees instead of the injured Aaron Bergin – got the first of his four first-half points to level things again and Cian Taylor and David O’Mahony, who caused all sorts of bother for The Harps early on, pointed either side of an Eoin Clancy effort.
The Harps then hit a purple patch – hitting five points in a row to open up a 0-8 to 0-4 lead. Three of them were Lanigan frees with Ciaran Comerford and Conor Brophy adding one apiece.
At this stage it looked as if The Harps might pull clear but Portlaoise settled well and Rigney hit three frees in a row to pull it back to one heading into injury time.
However, Conor Deegan hit back for The Harps and they led 0-9 to 0-7 at half time. Against that breeze in the second half would it be enough?
The second half was a slow-burning affair but a long-range inspirational point from Brian Mulligan reduced it to the minimum and the Cormac Rigney popped over a nice point to level it up.
Eoin Clancy hit back straight away for Ther Harps but the game’s big turning point came moments later. A long ball in from Cathal Duggan found O’Mahony and he finished past Peter Walsh for a crucial goal.
Cian Taylor added a point and Portlaoise could have had another goal moments later only for Walsh to brilliantly stop a penalty from Taylor after Colm Gleeson was hauled down in the square. Rigney added a point but even that let off could get The Harps going.
A Lanigan goal from a free deep into injury time was the best The Harps could muster and Portlaoise held on.
SCORERS – The Harps: Michael Lanigan 1-5 (1-4 frees), Eoin Clancy 0-2, Ciaran Comerford 0-1, John Brophy 0-1, Conor Brophy 0-1, Conor Deegan 0-1 Portlaoise: Cormac Rigney 0-7 (five frees), David O’Mahony 1-1, Keith Murphy 0-1, Cian Taylor 0-2, Brian Mulligan 0-1
PORTLAOISE: Eoghan Neilan; Joe Geaney, Chris Lynch, Frank Flanagan; Brian Mulligan, Cahir Healy, Ciaran McEvoy; Cathal Duggan, Gary Bergin; Tommy Fitzgerald, Colm Gleeson, Cormac Rigney; Keith Murphy, Cian Taylor, David O’Mahony. Subs: Dean Lynch for McEvoy (blood sub – 5-13), Lee Davis for O’Mahony (blood sub – 24-28), Dean Lynch for Geaney (56), Fionn Whelan for C Comerford (56)
THE HARPS: Peter Walsh; Shane Phelan, Daniel Comerford, David Doheny; Shane Fitzpatrick, Podge Delaney, Conor Dunne; Ronan Delahunty, Conor Brophy; Richie Saunders, Michael Lanigan, Conor Deegan; John Brophy, Eoin Clancy, Ciaran Comerford. Subs: Eoin O’Sullivan for Phelan (16), Pat Walsh for Fitzpatrick (HT), John Prior for C Brophy (50), Padraig Dunne for Deegan (50)
REFEREE: John Lalor (Shanahoe)