Portlaoise made it ten wins from 11 games in the league in emphatic fashion last Thursday evening and in doing so ended Stradbally’s chances of reaching the semi-finals.
After an even opening ten minutes, Portlaoise scored two goals in as many minutes and they pushed on from there to record an impressive and very comfortable 19 point victory.
They recorded the victory without a number of key players but it was the trio of Paul Cahillane, Bruno McCormack and Craig Rogers who pulled the strings up front and orchestrated the victory. Defensively they were very strong and the forward runs of midfielders and backs alike made life very difficult for their opponents.
Stradbally, who came into the final round in a semi-final spot, were without the services of Colm Kelly and while there was no lack of effort on their part, they never looked like recording the win they needed to retain fourth place in the table.
They did lead by 0-3 to 0-2 after five minutes thanks to a point from Padraig Langton and two frees from Conor Delaney but it would be 20 minutes before they added to that total while Portlaoise cut loose scoring 2-4 without reply.
In glorious sunshine in Rathleague, Eoghan Feane and Paul Cahillane struck for two quick-fire goals with Cahillane (2), Dean Cullen and Craig Rogers adding the points.
After struggling to mount a meaningful attack for 20 minutes, Padraig Langton almost hit back with a goal for Stradbally but Micky Nolan tipped the dipping shot over the bar.
Portlaoise responded with points from Rogers and Cahillane and while Conor Delaney pulled one back for Stradbally, the home side finished the half in style with a third goalfrom Rogers who finished to the back of the net to put his side 3-8 to 0-5 ahead at the break.
The pace of the game dropped dramatically at the start of the second-half and by the 45th minute, the sides had added just four points apiece with Cahillane (2), Dean Cullen and Aaron Rafter finding the target for Portlaoise while all four of Strdabally’s points came from the boot of Conor Delaney.
Stradbally did create three goalscoring opportunities but on each occasion they were denied by Micky Nolan.
In the final eight minutes, Portlaoise added two further goals from Stewart Nerney and Dean Cullen with the hugely impressive Paul Cahillane bringing his total to 1-7. Richard Carolan and Derek Dale rounded off Stradbally’s scoring.
Scorers: Portlaoise: Paul Cahillane 1-7 (0-3f); Craig Rogers 1-2 (0-1f); Dean Cullen 1-2; Eoghan Feane 1-0; Stewart Nerney 1-0; Bruno McCormack 0-2; Aaron Rafter 0-2. Stradbally: Conor Delaney 0-7 (0-5f); Padraig Langton 0-2; Derek Dale 0-2
Portlaoise: Micky Nolan; Eoghan Feane, Brian Mulligan, Eoin Bland; Eoghan Whelan, Paul Cotter, Donnacha O’Reilly; Stewart Nerney, Adrian Kelly; Gareth Dillon, Craig Rogers, Bruno McCormack; Paul Cahillane, Dean Cullen, Conor Dunphy. Subs: Aaron Rafter for Gareth Dillon (10mins); Kevin Fitzpatrick for Donnacha O’Reilly (50mins); David Browne for Paul Cotter (57mins)
Stradbally: Derek Bale; Colin Bale, Eamon Conlon, Joe Lacey; Damien Murphy, Liam Knowles, Jamie Kavanagh; Darren Maher, Paul Begley; Cormac Delaney, Alan Delaney, Justin Lalor; Benny Lawlor, Conor Delaney, Padraig Langton. Subs: Richard Carolan for Liam Knowles (23mins); Jack Deegan for Alan Delaney (HT); Wayne Comerford for Benny Lawlor (54mins); Derek Bale for Damien Murphy (54mins); John Clancy for Justin Lalor (54mins); Jack Larkin for Derek Bale (58mins)