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Kieran Lillis was outstanding for Portlaoise.
Kieran Lillis was outstanding for Portlaoise.

AIB Leinster Club SFC: Portlaoise prevail after penalty shootout


AIB Leinster Club SFC Quarter-Final

PORTLAOISE (LAOIS) 1-11 ST PAT'S (WICKLOW) 2-8

After extra-time

* Portlaoise win 5-4 on penalties

By Paul Keane at Joule Park, Aughrim

Seven time AIB Leinster club football champions Portlaoise found a new and exciting way to advance in the provincial championship with a dramatic penalty shoot out victory in Aughrim.

Tied with hosts St Pat's at the end of both normal time and extra-time, it ultimately took penalties to separate the sides with Portlaoise eventually edging it by 5-4.

The 35-time Laois champions scored all five of their penalties, compared to just four from St Pat's, and Craig Rogers emerged as the hero for the favourites with the decisive fifth conversion.

It was desperately tough on Casey O'Brien's St Pat's who overcame Ferbane in the preliminary round and led for much of this contest as they chased a semi-final clash with Carlow's Eire Og.

They simply couldn't finish the job as Portlaoise drew on all their big game experience to haul themselves over the winning line and to the last four clash on November 24.

Kieran Lillis was terrific for Portlaoise, hitting the score that took the game to extra-time and then adding a goal in that additional period to leave St Pat's requiring a Matthew Traynor equaliser to force penalties.

Former All-Star nominee goalkeeper Graham Brody also played a key role for Portlaoise, coming off the bench and playing as an extra defender at times as well as scoring a penalty in the shoot-out.

Portlaoise, finalists as recently as 2015, were on familiar ground initially when they opened with points from Ricky Maher and Conor Boyle, hinting at a more straightforward afternoon.

But they were rocked by an eighth minute Stephen Duffy goal for the hosts and only added another three points in the half as Pat's brought all their character and quality to bear.

Duffy's goal was a poacher's strike as he initially touched the ball down to himself and then doubled on it with a soccer style finish off his left foot that nestled in the corner of Portlaoise's net.

Benny Carroll responded with a Portlaoise point to tie it up at 0-3 to 1-0 but Pat's were growing in confidence now and began to weave some impressive attacking moves.

They took the lead for the first time in the 12th minute when Traynor boomed over a long range score.

The industrious Traynor then played in John Crowe for a fine score to leave the 14-time Wicklow champions sitting pretty with a 1-2 to 0-3 lead.

They retained that two point advantage at the end of a keenly contested half which was closed out by a Thomas Kelly point, his second for Pat's, to leave it 1-4 to 0-5.

Portlaoise sought a strong restart to wrestle back the momentum and Brian McCormack won and converted a free but they also booted three wides and McCormack himself fumbled a ball with a score at his mercy.

The experienced former county man was then black carded in the 47th minute and with two points still between the teams, Portlaoise had it all to do.

One of their responses to the sticky situation was to draft in star man Brody who performed a useful sweeper 'keeper role, operating as an auxiliary defender.

He had a chance to level the game in the 59th minute but dropped a long range free into the 'keeper's arms.

It was in line with a series of Portlaoise misses with David Holland and sub Paul Cahillane both blasting goal chances wide.

St Pat's retained a one-point advantage but were eventually reeled in when Lillis boomed over his second point of the day in the 63rd minute to force extra-time at 0-9 to 1-6.

Pat's kicked themselves for not sealing the deal though refused to throw in the towel and contributed to an ultra intense extra 20 minutes or so.

Paul O'Brien netted for them when Brody failed to deal with a high ball in though Lillis' goal for Laois in the second-half of extra-time cancelled it out.

Portlaoise led by one at the death but Traynor tapped off a 79th minute equaliser to ensure it would be decided by penalties.

Scorers for Portlaoise: Kieran Lillis 1-2, Brian McCormack 0-2 (2fs), Conor Boyle 0-2, Benny Carroll 0-2 (0-1f), Ricky Maher 0-1, Ronan McEvoy 0-1, Paul Cahillane 0-1.

Penalty scorers (5): Conor Boyle, Ricky Maher, Ronan McEvoy, Graham Brody, Craig Rogers.

Scorers for St Pat's: Stephen Duffy 1-1, Paul O'Brien 1-0, Thomas Kelly 0-2 (0-1f), Bryan Doyle 0-1, Matthew Traynor 0-2, John Crowe 0-1, Dean Healy 0-1.

Penalty scorers (4): Jonathan Delahunt, Padraig Higgins, Patrick McWalter, Stephen Duffy.

PORTLAOISE: Michael Nolan; Frank Flanagan, David Seale, David Holland; Paddy Downey, Brian Mulligan, Chris Finn; Kieran Lillis, Ciaran McEvoy; Brian Glynn, Conor Boyle, Gareth Dillon; Brian McCormack, Benny Carroll, Ricky Maher.

Subs: Graham Brody for Nolan (41), Damon Larkin for Glynn (41), Ronan McEvoy (0-01) for McCormack (47, black card), Paul Cahillane (0-01) for Maher (50), Craig Rogers for Downey (60). Maher for Cahillane (68), John Kavanagh for Carroll (68).

ST PAT'S: Shane Doyle; Shane Murley, Niall Donnelly, Wayne Doyle; Patrick O'Keane, Conor Ffrench, Ciaran Doyle; John Crowe, Dean Healy; Paul O'Brien, Patrick McWalter, Bryan Doyle; Matthew Traynor, Stephen Duffy, Thomas Kelly.

Subs: Ciaran McGettigan for Duffy (56), Jonathan Delahunt for McWalter (60). Duffy for Bryan Doyle (e/t), Padraig Higgins for Ciaran Doyle (68). Luca Rampersaud for O'Brien (78).

REFEREE: John Hickey (Carlow).

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