Portlaoise 2-18 Ballylinan 0-11
Laois Shopping Centre Senior Football Championship Round 1
Portlaoise had to play for 35 minutes with 14 men but it didn’t bother them at all as they cruised to a comfortable victory over 2017 finalists Ballylinan tonight in O’Moore Park.
Niall Rigney’s charges lost Gary Saunders, a first half sub, to a straight red card after he collided high with Robbie Donoher but it didn’t phase Portlaoise one bit as they ran out easy winners in the end.
They were without three of their team that started the county final win against O’Dempsey’s – Graham Brody, Cahir Healy and Benny Carroll (with Ricky Maher, Craig Rogers and Paul Cahillane coming on as subs) – and it was two teenagers who did the bulk of the scoring with Jason Maher and Ronan McEvoy shone.
Ballylinan, who were without Gary Walsh and Pauric McEvoy, almost had a goal straight from the throw in when the ball was launched to Ciaran Farrell but his shot was blocked out for a 45 by David Holland.
Cathail Dunne did convert that 45 but Portlaoise went straight down the other end and grabbed the only goal of the first half after two minutes.
Jason Maher broke down the wing and centred the ball to Conor Boyle who took a step before rifling the ball into the net.
Ballylinan weren’t fazed by that set back and they got the next two points through Ciaran Farrell and Dunne.
Portlaoise got the next two through the impressive duo of Ronan McEvoy and Jason Maher before Dunne left three between the teams at the midpoint of the half.
However, Ballylinan would only add one more point to their total as Portlaoise took over.
Ronan McEvoy added two more points to his tally as Maher, Bruno McCormack and Kieran Lillis also pointed to leave Portlaoise nine points up before they were reduced to 14 players.
Gary Saunders, only on as a sub after 13 minutes for David Holland, was shown a straight red card by referee Clifford Ward after colliding with Robbie Donoher.
Cathail Dunne kicked the final point of the half as Portlaoise took a 1-10 to 0-5 lead into half time.
Ballylinan needed to start to the second half well to have any chance of turning things around but instead Bruno McCormack extended their lead with a free and then created a goal chance which Jason Maher stroked the ball to the net.
Ballylinan responded with points from Cathail Dunne and Alan Farrell but Brian Mulligan left Portlaoise ahead 2-12 to 0-7 after 40 minutes.
Larry Kealy and Ronan McEvoy exchanged points before McEvoy took his tally for the evening to six as we entered the final quarter of the game.
The game petered out from there with the sides largely trading points as Portlaoise won by 13 in the end.
SCORERS – PORTLAOISE: Ronan McEvoy 0-6, Jason Maher 1-3 (two frees), Conor Boyle 1-0, Kieran Lillis 0-1, Bruno McCormack 0-4 (three frees), Brian Mulligan 0-1, Ciaran McEvoy 0-1, Craig Rogers 0-1, Ricky Maher 0-1 BALLYLINAN: Cathail Dunne 0-7 (four frees, one 45), Ciaran Farrell 0-1, Alan Farrell 0-1, James Redmond 0-1, Larry Kealy 0-1
PORTLAOISE: Michael Nolan; Chris Finn, David Seale, David Holland; Paddy Downey, Brian Mulligan, Colin Finn; Kieran Lillis, Ciaran McEvoy; Ronan McEvoy, Conor Boyle, Gareth Dillon; Bruno McCormack, Damon Larkin, Jason Maher. Subs: Gary Saunders for Holland (15, inj), Craig Rogers for Colin Finn (48, inj), Ricky Maher for McCormack (51), Paul Cahillane for Boyle (55)
BALLYLINAN: Tom Wright; Conor Behan, Eric Kenna, Kevin Byrne; Cathal Leonard, Richie Ryan, Robbie Donoher; Seamus Lacey, Jamie Farrell; Alan Farrell, Ciaran Farrell, Cathal Fennessy; Andy McEvoy, Cathail Dunne, Ciaran Fennessy. Subs: Oisin Leonard for Byrne (10, inj), James Redmond for McEvoy (ht), Dermot Leonard for Behan (43), Podge Walsh for Ciaran Fennessy (47), John Kealy for Kenna (55)
Referee: Clifford Ward (Portarlington)