Portlaoise 3-12 Ballinamere (Offaly) 2-11
AIB Leinster Club Intermediate Hurling Semi Final
The Portlaoise hurlers will play in the Leinster intermediate club final after a fantastic display by veteran Tommy Fitzgerald propelled them to victory over Offaly side Ballinamore.
Fitzgerald scored 1-2 and was instrumental in their crucial third goal as Portlaoise proved far too strong for their opponents from Tullamore.
There were heroic displays all over the field with Cahir Healy and Frank Flanagan winning everything in the backs while David O’Mahoney made a massive impact when introduced form the bench.
It is a win which will see Portlaoise and Tommy pitted against new Laois hurling manager Eddie Brennan in the final as his Graigue-Ballycallan had a big win over Fethard in their semi final today – so that will certainly be tasty.
Portlaoise played with the breeze in the first half but hit some poor wides as Ballinamere opened the scoring through Brian Duigan.
Cian Taylor levelled things up before Cormac Rigney and Tommy Fitzgerald gave the Town the lead for the first time after ten minutes.
Portlaoise hit a real purple patch then with Taylor and Cahir Healy raising white flags in between their opening goal which arrived after 12 minutes.
Cormac Rigney’s long ball created a race between Cian Taylor and Ballinamere keeper Stephen Fitzgerald – which he won and Taylor then got his stick to the ball to see it just cross the line.
But Ballinamere responded emphatically at the midpoint of the half as a ball broke to Paddy Murphy and he sailed through the Portlaoise defence to beat Eoghan Nealon in the goals.
Ballinamere would get two more opportunities for goals in the first half but Nealon pulled off two great saves to keep them out.
Portlaoise responded with a point from Gary Bergin and they went into a 2-6 to 1-1 lead after twenty minutes.
Cian Taylor did all the work with a jinking run along the endline before finding Tommy Fitzgerald who sidestepped the Ballinamere keeper to score Portlaoise’s second goal.
In fairness to Ballinamere, they battled well in the closing stages of the half and outscored Portlaoise by four to to.
Brian Duigan got them all while Portlaoise responded through Gary Bergin to leave them ahead by 2-8 to 1-5 at the break.
Paddy Murphy cut the gap instantly on the resumption of play and Portlaoise hit three wides before Cormac Rigney settled them with a free after 37 minutes.
And that score really settled Portlaoise as a minute later they had the ball in the net for a third time. Tommy Fitzgerald did all the hard work and got the ball to teenager Cathal Duggan who scored.
Kevin McDermott and David O’Mahoney traded points before a Cormac Rigney point made it 3-11 to 1-7 as we entered the final quarter.
Duigan hit a free for Ballinamere but David O’Mahoney’s second point left ten points between them with ten minutes to go.
Joe Maher and Brian Duigan cut the gap for Ballinamere but as we entered the last five minutes, it was goals they needed.
Cian Taylor landed a free but Ballinamere made Portlaoise sweat with a storming finish. Brian Duigan’s free from 35 metres in ended up in the net and then Paddy Murphy left five between them as three minutes of injury time were signalled.
But Portlaoise repelled some late attacks and held on and will now face Graigue-Ballycallan in the Leisnter final.
That game will be in Nolan Park on December 1. We can’t wait!
SCORERS – PORTLAOISE: Cormac Rigney 0-3 (two frees), Cian Taylor 1-3 (one free), Tommy Fitzgerald 1-2, Cahir Healy 0-1, Gary Bergin 0-2, Cathal Duggan 1-0, David O’Mahoney 0-2 BALLINAMERE: Brian Duigan 1-6 (four frees, one ’65), Paddy Murphy 1-3, Kevin McDermott 0-1, Joe Maher 0-1
PORTLAOISE: Eoghan Nealon; Joe Geaney, Chris Lynch, Frank Flanagan; Brian Mulligan, Cahir Healy, Ciaran McEvoy; Dean Lynch, Gary Bergin; Tommy Fitzgerald, Colm Gleeson, Cormac Rigney; Keith Murphy, Cian Taylor, Cathal Duggan. Subs: David O’Mahoney for Gleeson (ht), Aaron Bergin for Duggan (47m), Lee Davis for D Lynch (52m, inj)
BALLINAMERE: Stephen Fitzgerald; Ken Molloy, Ciaran Burke, Luke Nolan; David Magner, Gerry Spollen, Philip McDermott; Ross Ravenhill, Kevin McDermott; Paddy Murphy, Jack Fogorthy, Aaron Maher; John Murphy, Cormac Spollen, Brian Duignan. Subs: Joe Maher for Spollen (ht), Darragh Wyer for Fogarthy (43m), David Gillespie for McDermott (53m)
Referee: Peter Burke (Kilkenny)