Portlaoise 1-17 Ballyroan-Abbey 0-6
Laois SFC Semi-final
Portlaoise produced their best performance since their 2019 semi final win over Portarlington to reach another Laois SFC final.
Their accuracy in front of goal was much improved, they were tenacious in the tackle and they dominated midfield as they dismantled Ballyroan-Abbey – holding them to just two points from play.
There was also a first appearance of the season for former Laois keeper Graham Brody following an early injury to Michael O’Connell.
He was faultless on kick-outs and his running from the goals provided Portlaoise with a dimension that their attack has been missing – and it will be very interesting to see if he gets the nod to start in the final in two weeks time.
The first half was fairly faultless from Portlaoise. They hit just one wide, almost had a goal and completely nullified Ballyroan’s attack.
Brian Whelan gave the men in blue the lead with an early free but Portlaoise hit back through Damon Larkin.
Gareth Dillon, released up field from previous defensive duties, contributed two points while Kieran Lillis and Ronan McEvoy also scored.
They nearly had a goal too as Benny Carroll got away from him marker and shot low only for Paudie McDonald to save excellently with his feet.
Padraig McMahon clipped over Ballyroan’s second but they trailed 0-5 to 0-2 at the second water break.
Dillon, McEvoy and Paul Cahillane extended Portlaoise’s lead when play resumed as Ballyroan went 20 minutes without a score until Padraig McMahon pointed a free.
The Portlaoise blitz continued after that with Conor Boyle and Frank Flanagan joining the scoring before Cahillane landed a second free to leave them 0-11 to 0-3 ahead at half time.
The one way traffic continued in the second half as Kieran Lillis slotted his second and Ronan McEvoy converted two frees to leave 11 between them after 40 minutes.
A Brian Whelan free was the best that Ballyroan could muster in the third quarter as they trailed 0-14 to 0-4 at the second water break.
Ballyroan-Abbey never looked capable of mounting a comeback and any faint hope of that ended in the 50th minute when sub John Kavanagh smashed home a goal from close range.
After that, the game petered out with Portlaoise winning by 14 in the end.
SCORERS – Portlaoise: Ronan McEvoy 0-5 (two fees), John Kavanagh 1-0, Gareth Dillon 0-3, Damon Larkin 0-2, Conor Boyle 0-2, Kieran Lillis 0-2, Paul Cahillane 0-2 (two frees), Frank Flanagan 0-1 Ballyroan-Abbey: Padraig McMahon 0-3 (one free), Brian Whelan 0-2 (two frees), MJ Tierney 0-1 (one free)
PORTLAOISE: Michael O’Connell; Gary Saunders, Ben Dempsey, Kevin Swayne; Frank Flanagan, Chris Finn, Paddy Downey; Kieran Lillis, Ciaran McEvoy; Conor Boyle, Gareth Dillon, Damon Larkin; Ronan McEvoy, Benny Carroll, Paul Cahillane. Subs: Graham Brody for O’Connell (6, inj), David Holland for Downey (22, inj), Ricky Maher for Carroll (37), John Kavanagh for Kavanagh and Josh Hogan for Swayne (both 46)
BALLYROAN-ABBEY: Paudie McDonald; Mark Cahill, Aaron Carroll, Aaron McEvoy; Conor McWey, Marty Scully, Ciaran Byrne; Diarmuid Whelan, Cathal Doyle; Sean Murphy, Davin McEvoy, Shaun Fitzpatrick; Padraig McMahon, Charlie Whelan, Brian Whelan. Subs: Conaire Gee for C Whelan (20), MJ Tierney for A Byrne (ht), Enda McWey for D McEvoy and Colm Walsh for Fitzpatrick (both 42), Danny Brennan for A McEvoy (46)
REFEREE: Maurice Deegan (Stradbally)
SEE ALSO – Check out all the weekend GAA coverage here