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West’s awake as Portumna’s young guns shock the Village

Portumna 2-17 James Stephens 0-11
By Jim O’Sullivan
THERE WERE SHADES of Galway’s emphatic victory over Kilkenny in last year’s Guinness championship in the way Portumna powered their way to their first AIB All-Ireland club hurling final in Semple Stadium yesterday.

The ingredients were similar: a powerful hunger and a level of intensity which James Stephens were simply unable to match, and it produced a contest which turned into a virtual exhibition after the holders were reduced to 13 players for the final 10 minutes.

Portumna trainer Sean Treacy praised ‘keeper Ivan Canning for "an unbelievable save" just before half-time. But in a dogged contest, which saw 11 players yellow-carded and both Philly Larkin and substitute Shane Egan sent off, the goal scored by All-Star Damien Hayes in the 23rd minute was absolutely crucial.

Hayes, second highest scorer behind teenage star Joe Canning, praised wing-forward David Canning for his role in creating the opening after winning a great ball. "My man committed himself to Davy, as he had to, and he gave the ball back to me, fair play to him,’’ he said. "I just went for the goal. I think it set the tone for us.’’

The opening quarter yielded the game’s most competitive period, at the end of which Portumna led 0-3 to 0-2. During that period Hayes’ pace and craft in the right corner exposed an obvious vulnerability in the James Stephen defence which was to seriously undermine their efforts.

Additionally Portumna’s lively play in the half-forward line lessened the influence of Village captain Peter Barry and Philly Larkin, both of whom went into the game with injuries, while at the other end the Village struggled to make openings.

The Kilkenny side were finding it extremely difficult to lift their challenge until such time as Larkin began to make an impression (along with the consistent Donncha Cody in the right corner) and more especially when Brian McEvoy, their best player on the day, started to win ball at midfield, taking two good scores.

Further forward, Eoin Larkin never quite came to terms with the tenacious Michael Ryan at centre-back and, while he was prominent at stages, on several occasions when Larkin broke through, Ryan got back to dispossess him.

Behind him, Portumna were very solid in the full-back line and Ollie Canning was hugely influential, one of several candidates for man-of-the-match.

Referring to the fact that Portumna made some positional changes from the county final, Sean Treacy remarked: "All these players performed brilliantly in their different positions. And moving Ollie back to the corner added a lot of stability to the team.’’

The Hayes goal opened up a five-point advantage, to which Andy Smith at left half-forward contributed two marvellous scores from long distance. At the break Portumna were ahead 1-9 to 0-6.

James Stephens brought Peter Barry to midfield for the second half and completely changed around their forward line.

It brought about a certain improvement and points from McEvoy and Eoin Larkin frees, but before that Portumna had put away two more good scores. Barry was involved a few times and Richie Hayes did well at left half-forward, but the goal they badly needed never materialised.

Substitute Matt Ruth promised one in the 44th minute until Ollie Canning smothered his shot with a timely tackle. Minutes earlier, Joe Canning had the ball in the net a second time following another superb move, and in the 46th minute Philly Larkin was off the field after being yellow-carded for the second time.

The Village were being overwhelmed at this stage and substitute Shane Egan was only on the field before being similarly sent off. Unusually, he got his first card while waiting to come on to the field (arguing with an individual in the Portumna dugout about his helmet, apparently).

It wasn’t quite a humiliation for James Stephens, but certainly an embarrassing failure. Manager Adrian Finan, saying that they had feared such an outcome, summed it up well: "Somebody said that we were in the same position last year as Portumna, that we would have turned the world around to win.

"We tried this year, but sometimes it’s just not there. Deep down, Portumna probably wanted it that bit more.’’
Seamus Roche’s refereeing was once again impressive.

Scorers for Portumna: J. Canning 1-7 (0-5 frees); D. Hayes 1-4; A. Smith 0-4; R. Hayes and D. Canning 0-1 each.

Scorers for James Stephens: E. Larkin 0-5 (0-4 frees); B. McEvoy 0-3 (0-1 free); E. McCormack 0-2; D. McCormack 0-1.

PORTUMNA: I. Canning; M. Gill, E. McEntee (capt.), O. Canning; G. Heagney, M. Ryan, A. O’Donnell; L. Smith, E. Lynch; D. Canning, K. Hayes, A. Smith; D. Hayes, N. Hayes, J. Canning.

Subs: P. Smith for K. Hayes (56th minute); P. Treacy for L. Smith and E. Lynch for N. Hayes (58th); T. Quinn for Ryan (61st).

JAMES STEPHENS: F. Cantwell; D. Cody, M. Phelan, D. Grogan; J. Tyrrell, P. Larkin, P. Barry (capt.); B. McEvoy, P. O’Brien; J. Murray, E. Larkin, G. Whelan; E. McCormack, R. Hayes, D. McCormack.

Subs: M. Ruth for Murray (37th); S. Egan for Whelan (49th).

Referee: S. Roche (Tipperary).

 

West’s awake as Portumna’s young guns shock the Village

Portumna 2-17 James Stephens 0-11
By Jim O’Sullivan
THERE WERE SHADES of Galway’s emphatic victory over Kilkenny in last year’s Guinness championship in the way Portumna powered their way to their first AIB All-Ireland club hurling final in Semple Stadium yesterday.

The ingredients were similar: a powerful hunger and a level of intensity which James Stephens were simply unable to match, and it produced a contest which turned into a virtual exhibition after the holders were reduced to 13 players for the final 10 minutes.

Portumna trainer Sean Treacy praised ‘keeper Ivan Canning for "an unbelievable save" just before half-time. But in a dogged contest, which saw 11 players yellow-carded and both Philly Larkin and substitute Shane Egan sent off, the goal scored by All-Star Damien Hayes in the 23rd minute was absolutely crucial.

Hayes, second highest scorer behind teenage star Joe Canning, praised wing-forward David Canning for his role in creating the opening after winning a great ball. "My man committed himself to Davy, as he had to, and he gave the ball back to me, fair play to him,’’ he said. "I just went for the goal. I think it set the tone for us.’’

The opening quarter yielded the game’s most competitive period, at the end of which Portumna led 0-3 to 0-2. During that period Hayes’ pace and craft in the right corner exposed an obvious vulnerability in the James Stephen defence which was to seriously undermine their efforts.

Additionally Portumna’s lively play in the half-forward line lessened the influence of Village captain Peter Barry and Philly Larkin, both of whom went into the game with injuries, while at the other end the Village struggled to make openings.

The Kilkenny side were finding it extremely difficult to lift their challenge until such time as Larkin began to make an impression (along with the consistent Donncha Cody in the right corner) and more especially when Brian McEvoy, their best player on the day, started to win ball at midfield, taking two good scores.

Further forward, Eoin Larkin never quite came to terms with the tenacious Michael Ryan at centre-back and, while he was prominent at stages, on several occasions when Larkin broke through, Ryan got back to dispossess him.

Behind him, Portumna were very solid in the full-back line and Ollie Canning was hugely influential, one of several candidates for man-of-the-match.

Referring to the fact that Portumna made some positional changes from the county final, Sean Treacy remarked: "All these players performed brilliantly in their different positions. And moving Ollie back to the corner added a lot of stability to the team.’’

The Hayes goal opened up a five-point advantage, to which Andy Smith at left half-forward contributed two marvellous scores from long distance. At the break Portumna were ahead 1-9 to 0-6.

James Stephens brought Peter Barry to midfield for the second half and completely changed around their forward line.

It brought about a certain improvement and points from McEvoy and Eoin Larkin frees, but before that Portumna had put away two more good scores. Barry was involved a few times and Richie Hayes did well at left half-forward, but the goal they badly needed never materialised.

Substitute Matt Ruth promised one in the 44th minute until Ollie Canning smothered his shot with a timely tackle. Minutes earlier, Joe Canning had the ball in the net a second time following another superb move, and in the 46th minute Philly Larkin was off the field after being yellow-carded for the second time.

The Village were being overwhelmed at this stage and substitute Shane Egan was only on the field before being similarly sent off. Unusually, he got his first card while waiting to come on to the field (arguing with an individual in the Portumna dugout about his helmet, apparently).

It wasn’t quite a humiliation for James Stephens, but certainly an embarrassing failure. Manager Adrian Finan, saying that they had feared such an outcome, summed it up well: "Somebody said that we were in the same position last year as Portumna, that we would have turned the world around to win.

"We tried this year, but sometimes it’s just not there. Deep down, Portumna probably wanted it that bit more.’’
Seamus Roche’s refereeing was once again impressive.

Scorers for Portumna: J. Canning 1-7 (0-5 frees); D. Hayes 1-4; A. Smith 0-4; R. Hayes and D. Canning 0-1 each.

Scorers for James Stephens: E. Larkin 0-5 (0-4 frees); B. McEvoy 0-3 (0-1 free); E. McCormack 0-2; D. McCormack 0-1.

PORTUMNA: I. Canning; M. Gill, E. McEntee (capt.), O. Canning; G. Heagney, M. Ryan, A. O’Donnell; L. Smith, E. Lynch; D. Canning, K. Hayes, A. Smith; D. Hayes, N. Hayes, J. Canning.

Subs: P. Smith for K. Hayes (56th minute); P. Treacy for L. Smith and E. Lynch for N. Hayes (58th); T. Quinn for Ryan (61st).

JAMES STEPHENS: F. Cantwell; D. Cody, M. Phelan, D. Grogan; J. Tyrrell, P. Larkin, P. Barry (capt.); B. McEvoy, P. O’Brien; J. Murray, E. Larkin, G. Whelan; E. McCormack, R. Hayes, D. McCormack.

Subs: M. Ruth for Murray (37th); S. Egan for Whelan (49th).

Referee: S. Roche (Tipperary).