Park-Ratheniska v Portlaoise
2020 Junior Football Championship Final in O’Moore Park at 7.30pm
The delayed 2020 junior football championship will come to a conclusion tonight as Park-Ratheniska and Portlaoise meet in O’Moore Park.
This is Park-Ratheniska’s first team against Portlaoise’s third team but it is still very much a local derby.
Both of these sides had qualified for semi finals last year when action was halted due to a spike in Covid-19 cases.
The championship was initially run as groups and Park-Ratheniska were placed in a three team group alongside Castletown and The Harps.
The former had knocked them out of the 2019 championship but Park-Ratheniska were out for revenge and despatched them 3-16 to 1-4 in Round 1.
They then defeated The Harps 3-15 to 0-7 to qualify for the semi finals.
Portlaoise were placed in a group with all ‘second teams’ and easily qualified for the knock-out stages.
They defeated Ballyroan-Abbey and Killeshin before receiving a walkover from Ballylinan to reach the last eight.
Here, they needed extra time to get the better of Barrowhouse by 2-13 to 1-10 and take their place in the last four.
At the same time last October, Park-Ratheniska faced Kilcavan where a second half comeback saw them overcome a half time deficit to win 3-8 to 1-11.
Both sides took part in their delayed semi finals on this day last week.
Park-Ratheniska were in Timahoe to take on Ballyroan-Abbey’s second string. Despite a late scare, they won by 3-8 to 2-6.
At the same time in Portarlington, Portlaoise got the better of neighbours The Heath by 1-13 to 1-8.
Portlaoise have good defenders in the shape of Aidan McGovern, Oisin Fitzpatrick and Brian Seale while the addition of basketballer Chris Higgins and former League of Ireland soccer player Chris Mulhall certainly strengthens them.
Forward Scott Lawless has won senior championships with Portlaoise while Cormac Dunne, Martin Staunton and Cathal Duggan are all capable of scoring.
Park-Ratheniska’s team that defeated Ballyroan-Abbey was largely the same as the one that knocked out Kilcavan in the quarter final.
That is except for Jimmy Langton who missed that game with injury and is a major doubt.
But Ratheniska still have plenty of talent. Kieran Delaney and DJ O’Connell have scored well throughout while Brian Fingleton, Richie Hitchcock, Podge Dunne and Brian Dunne provide plenty of power and pace.
Park-Ratheniska have lost to the eventual winners of this competition almost every year since their relegation in 2014 and will be hoping this is their year.
But even if they do lose, they will still have another chance to go up because Portlaoise cannot be promoted as they already have a team at the intermediate grade.
So if Portlaoise are champions, Park-Ratheniska will play a playoff against Annanough who were relegated from intermediate in 2020.
A tight game is anticipated and we’ll have all the action as it happens on our Live Blog.