Home Sport GAA Much changed Portarlington withstand Portlaoise comeback to claim Division 1A glory

Much changed Portarlington withstand Portlaoise comeback to claim Division 1A glory

Portarlington 2-9 Portlaoise 2-8
ACFL Division 1A Final

A late Ronan Coffey free was the difference as Portarlington withstood a ferocious second half Portlaoise comeback to claim Division 1A glory tonight.

This was a much changed Portarlington side as seven of the team that started in the county final ten days ago were absent.

Scott Osborne, Diarmuid Bennett, Robbie Pigott, Ronan Coffey, Jake Foster, David Murphy and Colm Murphy were all replaced in the starting 15 by Dean Foster, Colin Slevin, Eoin McCann, Sean Michael Corcoran, Cathal Ryan and Jordan Fitzpatrick.

But they all did well and were helped by Portlaoise’s shooting on the night as they ended with 16 wides – in comparison to Portarlington’s two.

Portlaoise got proceedings underway with a Ronan McEvoy free in the opening minute – but they didn’t score again for 18.

Portarlington levelled matters through Sean Michael Corcoran and then Jordan Fitzpatrick put them ahead before they scored a brilliant goal in the tenth minute.

Sean Byrne’s sideline ball was excellently fielded by Cathal Ryan who handed it off to Sean Michael Corcoran and he picked out Jordan Fitzpatrick who slipped the ball past Michael O’Connell.

Adam Ryan landed a long range point before a Conor Boyle effort ended Portlaoise’s scoring drought and left the score 1-3 to 0-2 at the first water break.

Portarlington introduced Colm Murphy at this point and he scored a mark and fisted a point either side of a score from Paul Cahillane.

Then right on the stroke of half time, Portarlington got their second goal. Colin Slevin’s rampaging run was illegally halted by Conor Boyle and referee Maurice Deegan spread his arms for a penalty.

Sub Ronan Coffey made no mistake from the spot as Port took a 2-5 to 0-3 lead at half time.

Portlaoise began the second half much the better as a brace from Paul Cahillane either side of a super score from sub DJ White cut the deficit.

But Portarlington kept the deficit at six with 40 minutes on the clock as Adam Ryan smashed over his second.

But Portlaoise were right back in it a minute later when Portarlington keeper Sean Mooney spilled a high ball and sub Michael Culliton lapped up the rebound and buried it into the net.

Rioghan Murphy and Ricky Maher then swapped points to leave it 2-7 to 1-7 to Portarlington at the second water break.

Gareth Dillon cut the gap to two on the restart but an excellent score from the tightest of angles from sub Jake  put Portarlington three ahead again after 50 minutes.

But the game was level five minutes from the end. Kieran Lillis cracked a shot off the crossbar and when he attempted to collect the rebound, he was fouled by Cathal Bennett.

Paul Cahillane was on hand to send Sean Mooney the wrong way and set up a grandstand finish.

Portarlington sprung Robbie Pigott from the bench and he won a a kick-out that resulted in an attack where Colm Murphy was fouled and Ronan Coffey regained the advantage.

Portlaoise pushed for the equaliser but their shooting continued to let them down as Port held on.

SCORERS –  Portarlington: Jordan Fitzpatrick 1-1, Ronan Coffey 1-1 (1-0pen, one free), Adam Ryan 0-2, Colm Murphy 0-2 (one mark), Jake Foster 0-1, Rioghan Murphy 0-1, Sean Michael Corcoran 0-1 (one free). Portlaoise: Paul Cahillane 1-3 (1-0pen), Michael Culliton 1-0, Ricky Maher 0-1 (one free), Gareth Dillon 0-1, Ronan McEvoy 0-1 (one free), Conor Boyle 0-1, DJ White 0-1

PORTARLINGTON: Sean Mooney; Cathal Bennett, Dean Foster, Alex Mohan; Stuart Mulpeter, Jason Moore, Colin Slevin; Keith Bracken, Sean Byrne; Adam Ryan, Eoin McCann, Rioghan Murphy; Sean Michael Corcoran, Cathal Ryan, Jordan Fitzpatrick. Subs: Colm Murphy for Ryan (18), Ronan Coffey for Bracken (28), Diarmuid Bennett for Foster (39), Jake Foster for Corcoran (44), Robbie Pigott for McCann (55)

PORTLAOISE: Michael O’Connell; Josh Hogan, Chris Finn, Ben Dempsey; Gareth Dillon, Ciaran McEvoy, Kevin Swayne; Conor Boyle, Kieran Lillis; Benny Carroll, Damon Larkin, Ronan McEvoy; Paul Cahillane, John Kavanagh, Ricky Maher. Subs: Michael Culliton for McEvoy and DJ White for Kavanagh (both 35), David Holland for Hogan (42), Jason Maher for R Maher (50), Ben Reddin for McEvoy (55)

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Stradbally)

SEE ALSO – Previewed and Profiled: Wide open race anticipated once again as quest for Bob O’Keeffe Cup set to begin

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.