Referee halts Leinster club semi due to worsening weather

CLARA (Offaly) 1-5 PORTLAOISE (Laois) 0-7

CLARA (Offaly) 1-5 PORTLAOISE (Laois) 0-7

Worsening weather conditions forced this afternoon's AIB Leinster Club Senior Football Championship semi-final between Clara and Portlaoise to be abandoned, three minutes into the second half.

Brian Cowen watched on at O'Moore Park as referee Joe Curley called a halt to proceedings, with the Taoiseach's native Clara leading by a single point.

The dark, wet and windy conditions saw the floodlights switched on before the throw-in and both sides deserve credit for competing well during an absorbing first half.

A second-minute goal from Stephen Deehan proved to be the difference between the sides for much of the opening half-hour.

However, an impressive second quarter by Portlaoise ensured the sides were tied a 0-7 to 1-4 at the interval.

Portlaoise got out of the blocks quickly courtesy of a Paul Cahillane point inside the opening 30 seconds, but a settling goal eluded the Town side.

Instead, Clara quickly made full use of the gale force wind behind them. Graham Guilfoyle launched a long ball inside to John Reynolds who was unfortunate when his shot came back off the upright.

However, Deehan quickly pounced to push his side two points clear, after sneaking the ball past Portlaoise goalkeeper Michael Nolan.

Clara were enjoying the better of possession and Thomas Deehan soon slotted over the first of his four first-half points.

Portlaoise responded with a Peter McNulty score, but Clara defended in packs and kicked two of the next three points, with Thomas Deehan on target for both scores.

In a nip-and-tuck affair, Portlaoise hit back impressively by scoring five unanswered points - all from open play.

The Laois champions were unlucky not to tag on a goal in the 15th minute when Cahillane's penalty effort rebounded off the post.

Cahillane made amends somewhat with a subsequent point, and with further scores from Adrian Kelly, Kevin Fitzpatrick and Kieran Lillis, Portlaoise led by 0-7 to 1-3 by the 26th minute.

Thomas Deehan's fourth point tied things up before the break and although Clara made a bright start to the second half with a Stephen Deehan point, the sides will have to meet again after Meath official Curley decided to abandon the game.

Scorers - Clara: T Deehan 0-4 (0-1f), S Deehan 1-1

Scorers - Portlaoise: P Cahillane 0-2, P McNulty, A Kelly, B McCormack, K Lillis, K Fitzpatrick 0-1 each.

PORTLAOISE: M Nolan; E Bland, K Fitzpatrick, M McNulty; B Mulligan, C Healy, K Lillis; A Kelly, B McCormack; C Rogers, A Fennelly, B Glynn; P Cahillane, B Fitzgerald, P McNulty.

CLARA: K Meehan; A Cronin, M Rosney, D Kelly; D Baggot, M Mitchell, L Hiney; S Brady, C Kelly; S Deehan, J O’Hara, G Guilfoyle; E Brady, J Reynolds, T Deehan.

Referee: Joe Curley (Meath)

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