Home Sport GAA Strong second half sees Portlaoise reach minor football final

Strong second half sees Portlaoise reach minor football final

Portlaoise 2-13 Graiguecullen 1-12
Midlands Park Hotel Laois MFC semi-final

Portlaoise are through to a Laois minor football final after a hard earned victory over Graiguecullen this evening in the LOETB Centre of Excellence.

The club, the most successful in Laois, have not tasted success at this grade since 2012 and will be hoping to end that eight year wait next week.

Graiguecullen were the better of the sides in the first half as Portlaoise struggled to create many scoring opportunities.

Portlaoise took the game to Graiguecullen in the second-half though as they ran out deserving four-point winners in the end.

Despite all of that, Portlaoise got off to a perfect start as a tame effort from Kyle Enright was spilled by Lee Byrne and led to Michael Culliton tapping into an empty net.

Portlaoise tacked on another two points as a strong run by Brian Smith allowed him to point before full-back Jamie Preston produced another to set up Culliton.

Graiguecullen finally got a score on the board as Ivan Murphy pointed well. And Graigue almost had a goal then but Josh Hogan came to the rescue as he denied a certain goal with an well-timed interception.

Conor Kelly should have scored a goal but he somehow managed to hit the post from 10 yards out. But Graigue did get a score as Jamie Murphy pointed the rebound from Kelly’s shot.

Kieran O’Donnell opened his account with a sublime 45 but Graiguecullen replied well to Portlaoise’s early scoring prowess as they scored 1-3 without reply.

Conor Kelly pointed a free while he also scored a sublime point from play. And then half-back Conor Harte made a mazy run up field to spilt the posts.

Graiguecullen got in for goal soon after as John O’Shea drilled the ball into the net after confusion involving referee Maurice Deegan led to the Portlaoise players stopping as he seemed to have blown his whistle before signalling to play on.

Culliton pointed his second of the game to end Graiguecullen’s scores without reply. This took the game to the water break with Graiguecullen up by one point.

On the resumption, Graiguecullen once again put their foot down as Kelly pointed two frees. Kian Lawler kicked a stunning score with the outside of his boot.

DJ White spilt the posts with a free to signal the end of the first-half with Graiguecullen up by three points – 1-8 to 1-5.

Portlaoise took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second-half with O’Donnell pointing soon after the restart of play.

Portlaoise got in for their second goal as super play from the duo of O’Donnell and Liam Óg Brennan set up Culliton to get in for his second goal of the game and give Portlaoise a slender one-point lead.

Culliton, O’Donnell and Ben Dempsey all pointed well as Portlaoise held the upper hand in the second-half. Conor Harte and a Conor Kelly put two points between the sides with Portlaoise ahead.

White and Culliton raised two more white flags as Portlaoise looked to have had enough for their opponents. Graiguecullen were limited to frees as Kelly pointed another.

Kelly got another score from play before Portlaoise ended the game with two superb scores from Barry Fitzpatrick and White to see out the win.

Portlaoise will now face Ballyroan-Abbey after they defeated Na Fianna Óg in the other semi-final.

Scorers— Portlaoise: Michael Culliton 2-4, DJ White 0-3 (one free), Kieran O’Donnell 0-2 (one 45’), Brian Smith, Ben Dempsey and Barry Fitzpatrick 0-1 each Graiguecullen: Conor Kelly 0-8 (five frees), John O’Shea 1-0, Conor Harte 0-2, Ivan Murphy and Kian Lawler 0-1 each

PORTLAOISE: Conor Brown; Jamie Preston, Richard Whelan, Jack Tobin; Ben Reddin, Ben Dempsey, Josh Hogan; Sam Birrane, Liam Óg Brennan; Colin McEvoy, Kieran O’Donnell, Kyle Enright; DJ White, Brian Smith, Michael Culliton Subs: Barry Fitzpatrick for Enright (HT)

GRAIGUECULLEN: Lee Byrne; Mikee Horohan, Cillian O’Reilly, Sean Mc Grath; Conor Harte, Kian Lawler, Aaron Dorgan; Jake Haughney, Joao Salvador; Jack Byrne, Conor Kelly, John O’Shea; Jamie Murphy, Ivan Murphy, Scott Roycroft Subs: John Hayes for Harte (56)

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Stradbally)

SEE ALSO – All the latest GAA fixtures as attention switches to football

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