Boyle bags winner as Portlaoise scrape over the line

APPEARING in their first Leinster Club SFC tie since a 2007 drubbing at the hands of the same opponents, Louth champions St. Patrick’s provided much stiffer opposition this time and only a point in the last minute of extra-time from Portlaoise defender Conor Boyle spared the hosts’ blushes.

The Laois champions gained early control with a goal from Craig Rogers and with Longford official Derek Fahy awarding a number of decisions against the Louth side, Barry Fitzgerald’s reliable free-taking accounted for four of the five point margin at half-time.

Fahy was heckled by a section of the Louth supporters at the break, but in truth it was more down to poor shooting rather than any other factor that had St. Patrick’s struggling.

With Ray Finnegan in particular chipping in with some timely scores, Portlaoise’s lead was cut to just two on the restart and when Brian Mulligan was dismissed with just over ten minutes remaining, St. Patrick’s took full advantage.

Points from Finnegan and Eoin O’Connor levelled the tie and although Barry Fitzgerald’s point with two minutes left looked to have undone all of St. Pat’s hard work, Paddy Keenan was on hand to force extra-time with a pointed free.

The visitors maintained the momentum in extra-time, and a goal from Karl White three minutes in left Portlaoise in serious trouble.

But just when they looked to be running out of ideas Craig Rogers gathered a high ball in and when he was upended, the Portlaoise captain made no mistake from the resultant penalty rolling his shot into the bottom corner.

St. Patrick’s regained the lead early in the second period with a free, but that was to be their final score and Portlaoise hit back with two late points to seal a dramatic win.

Cahir Healy equalised with three minutes left and then wing-back Conor Boyle charged forward and fire over the winning score at the death.

Scorers for Portlaoise: C Rogers 2-0 (1-0 pen), B Fitzgerald 0-5 (4f), C Boyle 0-2, C Healy, T Fitzgerald, A Kelly, H Coughlan and P Cahillane (1f) 0-1 each

St. Patrick’s: P Keenan 0-7 (6f), K White 1-0, R Finnegan 0-3, E Carroll 0-2, E O’Connor and D O’Connor 0-1 each.

PORTLAOISE: M Nolan, C Healy, K Fitzpatrick, M McNulty, D Seale, T Fitzgerald, C Boyle, K Lillis, A Kelly, B Glynn, B McCormack, H Coughlan, P Cahillane, B Fitzgerald, C Rogers.

Subs: B Mulligan for McNulty (30), B Gaynor for Seale (48), C Parkinson for McCormack (51), B Smith for Lillis (54), I Fitzgerald for Cahillane (77), B McCormack for Kelly (77)

ST. PATRICK’S: R Arthur, J O’Hare, D Finnegan, D O’Hanlon, R Finnegan, E Breen, O Zamboglou, C Goss, P Keenan, P Mallon, S Hynes, A McCann, E Carroll, Eoin O’Connor, D O’Connor.

Subs: K White for McCann (19), E White for Hynes (57), D McCartain for Breen (73).

Referee: Derek Fahy (Longford)

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