Portlaoise grind it out and book shot at redemption

Portlaoise 1-9 Moorefield 0-8
Having lost last year’s Leinster senior club final to the Dublin champions, Portlaoise will have a shot at revenge against this year’s champions from the capital when they take on St Vincents in the decider following this pulsating semi-final win over Kildare’s Moorefield at O’Moore Park.

It was a deserved result after restricting Moorefield to just two second-half points and only one from play in the whole game. Crucially, Portlaoise grabbed the game’s only goal when Brian McCormack capitalised on a slip by Kevin Murnaghan early in the second-half and the goalscorer admitted that was a huge moment in the game.

“Up front we said we’d try to get a quick turnover, get a quick score off it. The forwards did great work there for the goal. I think Rodgie (Craig Rogers) turned them over and we got in straight away and that goal proved crucial in the end, it kept us two or three ahead in the second-half,” he said.

If there was any tiredness in the Portlaoise legs following an extra-time quarter-final win over Longford Slashers just seven days previously it certainly didn’t show. The Mick Lillis and Mark Kavanagh managed team made a storming start and McCormack, Rogers and Brian Glynn raised white flags inside the opening six minutes.

Moorefield overcame their sluggish opening and began to play their part in some very entertaining fare. They began getting the ball in hand and running at the Portlaoise defence. It resulted in a number of frees and the Kildare side punished their counterparts with three pointed frees from Ronan Sweeney and two from Adam Tyrrell to lead 0-5 to 0-3 after 20 minutes.

Cahillane cut that back to one but another free from Sweeney ended the scoring in the half and left Moorefield ahead by 0-6 to 0-4 at the break. The concession of so many frees was a big part of Portlaoise’s half time chat according to McCormack.

“We were a bit naive giving away some silly frees in front of goal. I think they only got one score from play in the whole game. At half time we said that if we stopped giving away giving silly frees that we’d score up front,” he said.

Players from both teams became involved in a heated altercation as they headed down the tunnel towards the dressing room for that half time chat but thankfully there was no continuation of those arguments in the second-half.

Moorefield actually began the second-half brightly and had chances to extend their lead but when Murnaghan was pressured into a mistake by Rodgers, the Portlaoise forward drove towards goal, drew goalkeeper Tom Kinsella towards him and then slipped a pass off to McCormack who had the easy task of lashing the ball into the empty net.

That gave Portlaoise a lead they would not relinquish. McCormack and Sweeney traded frees before Portlaoise almost grabbed a second goal with 13 minutes left but Paul Cahillane’s good work went unrewarded when his rasping shot hit the foot of Kinsella’s post.

Goalkeeper Michael Nolan pointed a free and Barry Fitzgerald split the posts before substitute Keith Duane scored Moorefield’s only point from play in the 53rd minute.

Moorefield captain Ross Glavin rued his team’s lack of attacking threat in the second half.

“I didn’t even realise we only had the one score from play. I didn’t mind things at half time because their backs were under pressure and they had a few lads on yellow cards. If we replicated the first-half and ran at them someone would have been sent off. We didn’t do that though, they got a lift from the goal and drove on in the second-half,” he said.

Points in the closing stages from Rogers and Cahillane completed the win for Portlaoise and joint manager Mick Lillis is now targeting St Vincents in the final.

“We would have loved to have won more Leinster titles but Dublin are very strong, Dublin win most of them,” he said. “The Dublin teams come through an incredibly tough county championship and they are incredibly well prepared for Leinster. The battle ahead is going to be a huge. Even though we’ve been through a lot of tough games there’s 10 of that team under 24 so we are not an old team. We’ve a lot to do and a lot to live up to but hopefully we can do the business,” he added.

PORTLAOISE: M Nolan 0-1f; M McNulty, C Healy, D Seale; B Mulligan, P Cotter, T Fitzgerald; C Boyle, S Nerney; B Smith, P Cahillane 0-2, B Glynn 0-1; C Rogers 0-2 (1f), B McCormack 1-2 (1f), K Lillis.

Subs: E Whelan for McNulty (16); B Fitzgerald 0-1 for Cotter (29); A Kelly for Nerney (51); K Fitzpatrick for Smith (56).

MOOREFIELD: T Kinsella; L Callaghan, G Naughton, P O’Flynn; R Houlihan, K Murnaghan, J Lonergan; D Flynn, R Glavin; A Mullins, R Sweeney 0-4fs, A Tyrrell 0-3fs; N Hurley-Lynch, P Murray, C Kelly.

Subs: D Whyte for Hurley-Lynch h/t; K Duane 0-1 for Murray (49); K O’Neill for Glavin (50); F Hanniffy for Callaghan (58).

Referee: David Coldrick


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