Kilmurry-Ibrickane advance to club final

Portlaoise (Laois) 0-8 Kilmurry-Ibrickane (Clare) 1-14

Portlaoise (Laois) 0-8 Kilmurry-Ibrickane (Clare) 1-14

Clare side Kilmurry-Ibrickane upset the form book as they gave an outstanding display to see off Portlaoise at the Gaelic Grounds this afternoon.

Michael McDermott's charges, qualifying for the club's first AIB All-Ireland Club SFC final, led from the off against an off-colour Portlaoise outfit that finished with 13 men.

The Laois and Leinster champions were left stunned after barely 20 seconds, when defender Brian Mulligan was given a straight red card for a dangerous challenge. Kilmurry-Ilbrickane capitalised immediately to land three quick-fire points.

Referee Michael Duffy had no option but to dismiss Mulligan after a one-handed swing on his opposite number Shane Hickey.

Kilmurry hit the front with efforts from Michael O'Dwyer, Enda Coughlan and Ian McInerney giving them a three-point lead by the ninth minute.

The eventual winners dominated for long spells of the opening half as Portlaoise struggled to convert their scoring opportunities and Kilmurry punished them dearly.

Scores from NUI Maynooth student Paul Cahillane and captain Brian McCormack cut the deficit to a point but with McInerney, Noel Downes and Michael O'Dwyer on target, Kilmurry led by 0-7 to 0-2 with nine minutes remaining in the opening half.

McCormack struck wides in the 19th and 23rd minutes but he made amends a minute later with a point.

Still, that good work was undone when Kilmurry finished the half strongly as a third McInerney point gave his side a 0-9 to 0-4 interval lead.

Portlaoise were left frustrated by some of Duffy's first half decisions, with their manager John Mulligan venting his anger with the Sligo official as the teams entered the dressing rooms at the break.

Kilmurry continued to prosper in the second period as despite Portlaoise's best efforts, they just could not get scores on the board when it mattered.

Aidan Fennelly was moved to centre-back with Cahir Healy now playing a more influential role at midfield, but Portlaoise still found it hard to click in attack.

Scores from Michael O'Dwyer and John Daly opened up a seven-point gap on the restart, as Kilmurry edged closer to a prized trip to Croke Park.

Craig Rogers had the ball in the back of the Kilmurry net in the 37th minute following a well-worked move, but Duffy added to Portlaoise's frustrations by disallowing the effort for a square ball.

Noel Downes delivered the sucker-punch for Portlaoise, seven minutes later, by scoring Kilmurry's only goal, after Portlaoise corner-back Eoin Bland had his clearance blocked 30 metres out.

A trio of points from Barry Fitzgerald, Cahillane and Healy gave Portlaoise some hope, but the late dismissal of McCormack sent the Laois men crashing back to earth.

Late scores from Daly and Odhran O'Dwyer ensured a nine-point win for Kilmurry who deservedly progressed to their first All-Ireland final.

There were scenes of anger at the full-time whistle as a Portlaoise supporter attempted to remonstrate with referee Duffy, who left the grounds shortly after 4pm escorted by six Gardai.

Kilmurry-Ibrickane now face a St Patrick's Day clash with either St Gall's or Corofin whose semi-final was postponed today due to a frozen pitch at Parnell Park.

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