AIB Leinster Club SFC: Portarlington win battle
AIB Leinster Club SFC Quarter-Final
Portarlington 1-14 St Loman's 1-12
By Brian Lowry at MW Hire O’Moore Park
2021 keeps getting better for Laois champions Portarlington. After claiming both the delayed 2020 crown and the 2021 championship in the O’Moore County, they came out on top of a titanic battle with St Loman's on Sunday to advance to the semi final of the Leinster club championship.
It was heart stopping stuff and it had it all. It was end to end stuff for the 65 odd minutes played as the large crowd in attendance were treated to a brilliant battle.
Portarlington started like a train and were 1-6 to 0-1 up after 12 minutes while five of their six forwards had all scored from play by the ninth minute.
Rioghan Murphy’s goal eight minutes into the game really set them on their way but as the half unfolded, they realised that the Westmeath champions didn’t travel to make up the numbers.
St Loman's began to narrow the gap. Ronan O’Toole kicked a great score while three frees from John Heslin helped them get the arrears back to three by half time as Portarlington led 1-7 to 0-7.
Alex Mohan was sent to the sin bin late in the opening half and for the seven second half minutes that he was off the field, St Loman's made hay.
TJ Cox fired to the net to give them a great boost while points from Heslin and Sam McCartan saw them flip the game on its head and take the lead on 37 minutes – 1-9 to 1-8.
Portarlington responded well and took a two point lead only to be clawed back on more than one occasion. As tensions rose, it got heated on the field but coming into the final 10 minutes of the game, the sides were level on 1-12 each.
Portarlington then kicked the last two scores of the game from Jake Foster and Stephen O’Neill to seal their place for Croke Park in two weeks time.
Not for the first time this year, their defence was excellent with Cathal Bennett holding Shane Demspey scoreless and Robbie Pigott, who was forced to play at full back rather than number six due to injury to regular full back Diarmuid Bennett, also held talisman John Heslin scoreless from play.
Scorers for Portarlington: Colm Murphy 0-4 (0-2f), Rioghan Murphy 1-1, Adam Ryan 0-3, Jake Foster 0-2, Paddy O'Sullivan, Ronan Coffey, David Murphy and Stephen O'Neill 0-1 each.
Scorers for St Loman's: John Heslin 0-5 frees, TJ Cox 1-0, Ronan O'Toole and Sam McCartan 0-2 each, Fola Ayorinde, Paddy Dowdall and Peter Foy 0-1 each.
PORTARLINGTON: Scott Osborne; Cathal Bennett, Robbie Pigott, Alex Mohan; Colin Slevin, Stuart Mulpeter, Paddy O'Sullivan; Keith Bracken, Sean Byrne; Adam Ryan, Ronan Coffey, Rioghan Murphy; Jake Foster, David Murphy, Colm Murphy.
Subs: Sean Mooney for Scott Osborne (36), Stephen O'Neill for Colin Slevin (43), Jordan Fitzpatrick for David Murphy (55).
ST LOMAN'S: Jason Daly; David Whelan, Oisin Hogan, Darragh O'Keefe; Kelvin Reilly, Paddy Dowdall, Jack Geoghegan; Fola Ayorinde, Sam McCartan; Kevin Regan, Ronan O'Toole, Peter Foy; TJ Cox, John Heslin, Shane Dempsey.
Subs: Ken Casey for Shane Dempsey (43), Rory Sheehan for Kevin Regan (55).
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow).