The defeat has consigned Portlaw to the intermediate grade in 2004, but they can have no argument about the result. In the opening half, Portlaw were setting the pace for most of the way. They led from the fifth minute with a Billy Laffan point, easing five clear by the 27th, and were still two ahead, 0-9 to 0-7 at the break.
The sides traded early second-half goals, with Niall Power rattling the net for Ballyduff in the 32nd minute and scorer-in-chief Freddie Kelly doing likewise at the other end two minutes later. Kelly’s goal restored his side’s lead, 1-9 to 1-8, and it looked to have set the stage for a thrilling finale.
But then Ballyduff quickly began to take control, and with Pat Fitzgerald emerging as a dominant and influential presence at midfield and Richard Barron and James Cuddihy posing a major twin threat up-front, the winners steadily drew away.
Ballyduff’s total superiority was mirrored in nine unanswered points, the bulk of them coming from Barron and Cuddihy, in the closing quarter.
Scorers for Ballyduff Lower; J. Cuddihy(0-7, 0-6 frees); R. Barron(0-5); N. Power(1-0); D. Van Veen(0-2); C. Kenny, P. Fitzgerald. S. Larkin(0-1) each.
Portlaw; F. Kelly(1-5, 0-4 frees); B. Laffan, E. Galvin. M. Power. J. Hartley(0-1) each.
BALLYDUFF LOWER: B. O’Leary; D. Ryan. H. Harris. M. Murphy; S. O’Leary. C. Kenny. J. O’Leary; P. Matthews. P. Fitzgerald; S. Larkin. J. Kennedy. N. Power; J. Cuddihy. R. Barron. D.Van Veen.
PORTLAW: N. Kelly; P. Nolan. D. Walsh. D. Long; B. Laffan. E. Galvin. S. Cullinane; E.Rockett. A. Kirwan; M. Power. J.Hartley. K. Reade; M.Hartley. P. Coffey. F. Kelly; Subs;P. Duggan for Cullinane; M. Walsh for Reade.
Referee: John M.Kelly, Shamrocks.