Ballyroan-Abbey came within a minute of ending a 47 year wait for minor success this day last week.
They played with an extra man for 40 minutes of the MFC final last Sunday after Portarlington’s Daragh Galvin was sent off when he picked up two yellow cards in the first half.
And Ballyroan-Abbey led the game by three points in the fourth minute of added time when a high ball into the square was tapped down by Portarlington’s Sean Michael Corcoran where sub Ceilum Coughlan Maher was on hand to score the equalising goal.
Indeed it was a sterling effort by Portarlington who just moments earlier had lost their best player on the day, Rioghan Murphy, to a shoulder injury after he collided with teammate PJ Ward.
Portarlington got off to a brilliant start with Ciaran Ward converting a free and a penalty in the opening minute.
The lads in maroon were the better team in the early stages and led by three points when Galvin departed the field for good.
Ballyroan-Abbey got level via an Eoin Egan goal and although they built into a lead in the second half, they failed to put clear daylight between themselves and the 14 men.
When Rioghan Murphy won a second penalty ten minutes from the end, and it was converted by Ciaran Ward, Portarlington’s hopes of a dramatic comeback increased.
And so it was with Coughlon-Maher’s ending things in a draw and leading to our first replay since 2002 at this level.
Ballyroan-Abbey and Portarlington have been the stand-out teams in this age group all year and they will meet in the minor football final replay at 1.30pm in O’Moore Park this afternoon.
Ballyroan-Abbey won the league final earlier this year – defeating Killeshin-Crettyard – and although we tipped them last week, the nature of that game has made us flip to Portarlington this time.
Both sides are littered with players who represented the Laois minors this year. Portarlington’s half back line contains Daragh Galvin, Rioghan Murphy and Laois vice-captain Cathal Bennett.
Sean Michael Corcoran will be midfield and he should be joined once more by Mikey Bennett.
Other notable players on the Portarlington team include Patrick Sobczak, PJ Ward, Ciaran Ward and Adam Lambkin.
Ballyroan-Abbey are also stacked with players of county standard. Ciaran Byrne, Cathal Doyle, Enda McWey and Brian Whelan all represented the footballers this year while Fionan Mahony played for the hurlers.
Lawson Obular, Adam Dunne and Shaun Fitzpatrick are powerful players who should play big roles in the game. While Davin McEvoy’s 1-3 from the bench the last day will surely see him guaranteed a starting berth this time.
But if Portarlington can keep all 15 players on the pitch this time, Ballyroan-Abbey’s long wait for success at this grade may go on.