Emo 0-11 Portlaoise 1-6
Laois Shopping Centre SFC Quarter-final
Emo are through to the Laois SFC semi-final following their first knockout win over Portlaoise in almost 50 years.
The four-in-a-row champions were knocked out of the championship at the quarter-final stage as Emo kicked the last five points of the game to beat The Town in knockout football for the first time since 1972.
Incidentally, that was the last time Emo won the championship and it makes up for so many near misses against their great rivals over the years.
It’s Portlaoise’s earliest championship exit since they failed to make it out of the group stages in 2006.
As he had done in the Round 2 win over O’Dempsey’s, Emo’s Jack Owens got the last two points but Darren Strong and Paul Lawlor were also immense over the course of the hour and the Crowleys, Murphys and Gormans were heroic too. It was a real team performance, one that saw them score the last five points of the game and come back from three points down.
Portlaoise played with the aid of the wind in the opening half but despite dominating possession for long stages and completely on top in midfield, they never really made it count.
Jack Owens and John Kavanagh exchanged early frees before two Graham Brody 45s had Portlaoise 0-3 to 0-1 up at the water break.
Portlaoise had a couple of goal chances but Conor Boyle and Ciaran McEvoy were both denied by Niall Gorman and they racked up eight wides in that first half in total.
Ricky Maher pointed from play and Frank Flanagan got a mark but frees from Jack Owens and Paul Lawlor had it back to two – 0-5 to 0-3 – at half time.
A Nigel Murphy point from play with the first attack of the second half and then a Lawlor free had the sides level. Emo’s dander was up and with Brian Glynn sin binned, the whiff of a shock was in the air.
From the next attack, however, Benny Carroll slammed home a brilliant goal after a blistering run. Yet Emo weren’t rattled.
Darren Strong pulled back a point for Emo and there was still two in at the water break, 1-5 to 0-6.
Ronan McEvoy pointed with his first touch after coming on to put Portlaoise three up but Paul Lawlor and Darren Strong responded and there was only one in it going into the last ten minutes.
And they were level when Paul Lawlor pointed in the 54th minute after a great cross-field ball from Darren Strong.
Jack Owens then stepped up to fire over the lead point with two minutes of normal time remaining and they were well on top at this stage with wave after wave of attack.
And Owens made sure of it in injury time when he kicked his fourth point of the day.
Emo now go through to the semi-finals for the first time since 2015 but will have to wait until November 2 for the draw as the championship is set to be put on hold until Laois’s interest in the intercounty season is over.
SCORERS – Emo: Paul Lawlor 0-4 (two frees), Jack Owens 0-4 (two frees), Darren Strong 0-2. Nigel Murphy 0-1. Portlaoise: Benny Carroll 1-0, Graham Brody 0-2 (both ’45s), Ronan McEvoy 0-1, Ricky Maher 0-1, Frank Flanagan 0-1 (mark), John Kavanagh 0-1 (free),
PORTLAOISE: Graham Brody; Michael Dowling, Frank Flanagan, Chris Finn; David Seale, Gary Saunders, Gareth Dillon; Kieran Lillis, Brian Glynn; Paddy Downey, Conor Boyle, Benny Carroll; John Kavanagh, Ciaran McEvoy, Ricky Maher. Subs: Paul Cahillane for Kavanagh (35), David Holland for McEvoy (43), Ronan Maher for R Maher (46), Damon Larkin for Glynn (50)
EMO: Niall Gorman; Jack Sethright, James O’Rourke, Liam Crowley; Padraig Kirwan, Shane Murphy, Sean Greene; Finbarr Crowley, Brian Gorman; Nigel Murphy, Darren Strong, Cian Langford; Paul Lawlor, Jack Owens, Paddy Hosey. Subs: David Gorman for Langford (44)
REFEREE: Brendan Hickey (Graiguecullen)
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