Fitzpatrick timing perfect as Portlaoise retain crown

Portlaoise 2-08 Arles-Killeen 1-08

Fitzpatrick timing perfect as Portlaoise retain crown

The champions had too much for a dogged Arles-Killeen side that led by four points early in the second half. They couldn’t hold that lead, however, and a fortuitous goal for Portlaoise from Kevin Fitzpatrick midway through the half swung the game in their favour. Arles-Killeen will be left to rue a second half which produced just two points, as they struggled to fight back when Portlaoise started to go through the gears.

Portlaoise almost had the perfect start when Craig Rogers was played through after a little over a minute, but his close-range effort was well saved.

Paul Cahillane opened the scoring with a point from 20 yards, and both teams traded scores over the next 10 minutes.

It looked like Portlaoise might finally seize theinitiative when they were awarded a penalty in the 14th minute after Brian Smith was fouled. Craig Rogers stepped up and slotted home a wonderful effort, but Arles-Killeen struck back within minutes as Paul Kingston raced clear down the right wing and finished low past Michael Nolan.

Further points from Donie Kingston and Paul Kingston saw them lead 1-6 to 1-3 at half-time.

Killeen got off to a good start in the second half, with Brian McDonald pointing from close range to push them four ahead.

Portlaoise were still struggling until Brian McCormack’s deflected shot fell kindly to Fitzpatrick, and he fisted the ball past Mick Leigh for a game-changing score.

Brian McCormack quickly added two long-range frees and the introduction of Zach Tuohy gave Portlaoise a timely boost, and they battled their way to the finish line, winning by three points.

It is title number 30 for them in Laois, but the attention will mow quickly turn to the Leinster championship.

Scorers for Portlaoise: C Rogers 1-4 (1-0pen, 0-2f), K Fitzpatrick 1-0, B McCormack 0-2f, C Healy, P Cahillane 0-1 each

Scorers for Arles-Killeen: P Kingston 1-3 (0-2f), D Kingston (1f), D Brennan (2f) 0-2 each, B McDonald 0-1.

PORTLAOISE: M Nolan; M McNulty, B Mulligan, D Seale; E Whelan,C Healy, T Fitzgerald; C Boyle, K Lillis; B Glynn, B Fitzgerald, C Rogers; P Cahillane, B McCormack, B Smith.

Subs: P Cotter for Seale (ht), K Fitzpatrick for Smith (41), Z Tuohy for B Fitzgerald (51), A Kelly for Glynn (63).

ARLES-KILLEEN: M Leigh; James Mahon, P McDonald, N O’Rourke; J Mulhare, S Julian, B O’Shea; J Enright, D Kingston; S O’Shea, D Brennan, D Julian; C Keightley, P Kingston, B McDonald.

Subs: A Ryan for B McDonald (53), B O’Loughlin for Keightley (56), John Mahon for D Julian (58).

Referee: Eddie Kinsella (Courtwood).

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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