Portarlington 2-8 St Joseph’s 0-7
Laois Shopping Centre 2018 U-21 Football Championship Final
Portarlington waited 24 years to be crowned U-21 champions in 2017 and they have now made it back-to-back crowns as they lifted the 2018 version this afternoon against St Joseph’s.
This was an attritional affair where they weather conditions had a large baring on the game with a driving wind blowing towards the Windy Gap throughout the match.
The pitch in Bill Delaney Park in Stradbally was in remarkable condition given the time of year and made for a really entertaining game.
St Joseph’s appeal against the red card received by Dylan Doyle in the dying moments of their semi final win over Ballyroan-Abbey failed and his loss was certainly felt by the Kellyville men.
They played against the wind in the first half and would have been happy with how the first 28 minutes of it went.
They trailed by 1-4 to 0-2 at that stage but Portarlington ended the half with a flurry of scores which ultimately gave them enough of a cushion to be able to see out the second half comfortably enough.
We had to wait five minutes for the game’s first score and it was a goal for Portarlington. Ronan Coffey’s great catch created the space for Eoin McCann and he showed deft feet to sidestep keeper Adam Nichol-Waugh before rattling the net.
Jake Foster, Daragh Galvin and Colm Murphy all pointed before the midpoint of the half as Joseph’s, who were playing with Jack Lacey as a sweeper, struggled to get forward against the breeze.
They did eventually open their account with a Brian Daly free after 19 minutes and although they got another through Conor Kealy, the end to the half was not kind to them.
Ronan Coffey and Jake Foster added points for Port before a strong run from Colm Murphy ended with him planting the ball beyond keeper Adam Nichol-Waugh.
The powerful full forward, who had a titanic tussle with James Kelly throughout, added another point before half time and Port took a 2-6 to 0-2 lead into the break.
St Joseph’s had the aid of the wind in the second half and they made a positive start with a long rang Brian Daly free.
Portarlington were now struggling against the wind in the same way St Joseph’s had in the first half and points from Daly, James Kelly and Bernard Wheatley left six between the teams as we entered the final quarter.
A goal for St Joseph’s at this point would have made things very interesting but on the one half chance they created to get one, Port keeper Scott Osbourne was alert to the danger and got to the ball before Peter Kealy.
It took Portarlington until the 53rd minute of the game to get their first score of the second half but it came from a Jake Foster free after a great run by Daragh Galvin.
Brian Daly left six between them again but Foster kicked the insurance point just before the end to ensure Portarlington retained the title.
This is to be the last ever U-21 football championship played in Laois as the grade is set to be abolished this year and revert to an U-20 championship.
SCORERS – PORTARLINGTON: Colm Murphy 1-2 (one free), Jake Foster 0-4 (three frees), Eoin McCann 1-0, Daragh Galvin and Ronan Coffey 0-1 each ST JOSEPH’S: Brian Daly 0-4 (all frees), James Kelly, Bernard Wheatley and Conor Kealy 0-1 each
PORTARLINGTON: Scott Osborne; Eoin Kennedy, Diarmuid Bennett, Alex Mohan; Colin Slevin, Robert Pigott, Cathal Bennett; Eoin McCann, Sean Byrne; Sean Michael Corcoran, Colm Murphy, Curtis Lyons; Jake Foster, Ronan Coffey, Darragh Galvin. Subs: Conor McCarthy for Kennedy (40m, inj), Jordan Fallon for Corcoran and Cormac Curtis for Lyons (both 55m)
ST JOSEPH’S: Adam Nichol-Waugh; Robbie Langton, James Kelly, Dylan O’Brien; Finnan Maher, Niall Brennan, Dean Brophy; Brian Daly, Bernard Wheatley; Josh Lacey, Ciaran Ramsbottom, Mikie Dempsey; Jack Lacey, Conor Kealy, Peter Kealy. Subs: Seamus Farrelly for O’Brien (ht), Stephen McDonald for Maher (40m)
Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Courtwood)