Camross weathered the storm of a late Portlaoise comeback to book their place in the county final in the second of the Laois senior hurling semi-finals in O’Moore Park on Sunday night.
A tight encounter throughout, it was Camross’ ability to make the most of their opportunities which was the difference between the two.
Portlaoise, who had put a major focus on a successful hurling campaign, will be disappointed in the manner of their defeat, and will rue some poor shot selection which hindered their chances of reaching this year’s decider.
Two early Noel Costello frees got Portlaoise underway and was a fair reflection of the town’s early dominance. Derek Delaney stretched the gap to three with a fine forty yard effort in the tenth minute.
Camross finally got off the mark in the twelfth minute and it was worth the wait, with Dwane Palmer finding the back of the Portlaois net. Dean Delaney found Palmer unmarked and he dispatched from ten yards.
Camross hit a further three unanswered scores as they began to get a foothold in the first half. Frees from Zane Keenan and Dwane Palmer followed by a thirty yard effort from Palmer making up this hatrick of unanswered scores, leaving the scoreboard read 0-4 to 1-4 after twenty minutes.
Noel Costello flashed over from forty yards to break this scoring chain. Two Zane Keenan frees finished the scoring for the first period seeing Camross go to the break 1-6 to 0-5 to the good.
Palmer extended the black and ambers lead seven minutes into the second period with a neat thirty yard effort, widening the gap to five, but Portlaoise weren’t about to roll over and from this point started to dominate proceedings.
Four unanswered points between the thirty ninth and forty fifth minutes reduced the gap to the smallest of margins, with an Eoin Costello thirty five yard effort the pick of these scores.
Portlaoise’s half back line was beginning to supply good ball to their forward division at this point. Camross seemed to be shocked into life and hit the next three scores, Dean Delaney firing over from thirty yards, followed by points from Aaron Moore and a Zane Keenan free seeing the score board read 0-9 to 1-10 entering the last ten minutes.
Portlaoise’s Cian Taylor pointed from thirty yards to reduce the gap to three and Portlaoise began the search for goals.
Dwane Palmer pointed after an excellent catch by his midfield colleague Matthew Collier to push the gap back to four with five minutes remaining.
Portlaoise weren’t done yet and they finally managed to raise a green flag with two minutes remaining. Tommy Fitzgearld fired a low pile driver from twenty yards which somehow managed to find its way through the crowded Camross defence and past Tadgh Doran in the Camross goal leaving just two between the sides as the clock hit the sixty minute mark.
Camross to their credit never panicked, captain Tomas Burke scored a superb solo point from the resulting puck out to re-establish a three point margin. Dwane Palmer added to this with an excellent thirty yard point to ensure his side got over the finishing line despite some late scares.
Camross‘s ability to keep the score board ticking over at vital times was the difference between the two sides. Portlaoise will look back at some poor shot selection particularly in the first half as they were the architects of their own downfall and despite a courageous comeback just came up short to the more clinical Camross.
The winners will have to keep up this good form, however, as they face up to Borris-Kilcotton in the final.
SCORERS - Camross: Dwane Palmer 1-5 (0-1 free), Zane Keenan 0-5 (0-4 frees), Thomas Burke 0-2, Dean Delaney, Aaron Moore 0-1 each; Portlaoise: Noel Costello 0-5 (0-4 frees), Tommy Fitzgearld 1-1, Darragh Duggan, Derek Delaney, Barry Fitzgerald, Eoin Costello, Cian Taylor 0-1 each
CAMROSS: Tadgh Doran; Michael Phelan, Malvin Moloney, Peter Guilfoyle; Martin Burke, Andrew Collier, Damien Keenan; Dwane Palmer, Matthew Collier; Ciaran Collier, Thomas Burke, Gearoid Burke; Dean Delaney, Zane Keenan, Aaron moore. Subs: Thomas Brickley for M Phelan (35 mins), Murty Delaney for M Collier (44 mins), Kevin Lalor for P Guilfoyle (50 mins)
PORTLAOISE: Colm Clear; Eoin Browne, Brian Smith, Brian Mulligan; Darragh Duggan, Joe Phelan, Derek Delaney; Cahir Healy, Ciaran McEvoy; Cian Taylor, Noel Costello, Eoin Costello; Barry Fitzgerald, Tom Fitzgerald, Tony Byrne. Subs: Keith Murphy for D.Duggan (44 mins)