Sarsfields powered their way past Portlaoise, a little easier than was generally expected, in the second Laois Ladies SFC semi-final in Portarlington on Sunday evening.
The victory means the 2011 title holders go into their seventh final in succession and pits them against arch rivals Timahoe in the showdown in Crettyard on Saturday next.
The score line tells its own tale, one in which, apart from brief periods at the beginning of each half, the Mountmellick side dominated this game for most of the sixty four minutes. Portlaoise started with a flurry, Ciara Delaney, Aisling Keogh, and Rachel Conroy to the fore, as Sarsfields fought off a determined attempt to poach a goal in the opening two minutes.
Having lifted the siege Sarsfields took off and the opening point by Tracey Lawlor, clearly back to her best form, was followed by a blitzkrieg which brought eight points in as many minutes. Assisted by good work from Hazel O’Connor and Joyce Dunne, Rachel Williams, Claire Conlon and Louise Bergin complemented Lawlor’s tally of five.
Portlaoise’s Alison Taylor and Aoife Conroy were unable to contain the powerhouse performance of Alison McEvoy and Louise Bergin in the middle of the field. Aisling O’Gorman, Ellen Healy and Clodagh Brennan, and sweeper Lorraine McCormack, tried valiantly to stem the tide but the Sarsfields front six maintained the relentless assault on Ciamh Dollard’s goal and added another nine points before the break with Lawlor, Bergin, Williams and Conlon sharing the spoils.
Portlaoise again started well and this time were rewarded for their efforts when Taylor and Rebecca Kelly kicked two excellent points to signal a revival, before a brace each from Ciara Burke and Williams more than cancelled them out at the other end.
In a less frenetic second period Bergin and Lawlor brought the Sarsfields points to the two dozen mark and Aisling Kehoe completed the Portlaosie tally with a well taken free after 16 minutes.
For the winners its onwards to the to the Final in Crettyard on Saturday next at 3.30 while Portlaoise must start again to try and build on the huge talent that brought them numerous underage titles over the last ten years.
SCORERS - Sarsfields: Tracey Lawlor 0-11 (two frees), Rachel Williams 0-4, Louise Bergin, Ciara Burke, Clare Conlon 0-3 each. Joyce Dunne 1-0; Portlaoise: Rebecca Kelly (free), Alison Taylor, Aisling Kehoe (free) 0-1 each
SARSFIELDS: Clodagh Dunne; Siobhán Fitzpatrick, Jenny McEvoy, Amy Grehan; Emma McEvoy, Mags McEvoy, Aisling Dunphy; Alison McEvoy, Louise Bergin; Hazel O’Connor, Tracey Lawlor, Joyce Dunne; Ciara Burke, Claire Conlan, Rachel Williams. Subs: Grace Weston for Clodagh Dunne (34 mins), Ciara O’Loughlin for Claire Conlan (34 mins), Meaghan Dunne for Hazel O’Connor (42 mins), Aileen O’Loughlin for Alison McEvoy (45 mins).
PORTLAOISE: Ciamh Dollard; Aisling O’Gorman, Ellen Healy, Clodagh Brennan; Fiona O’Connor, Aisling Saunders, Aoife Conroy; Alison Taylor, Fiona Dooley; Claire Dunne, Ciara Delaney, Aisling Keogh; Lorraine McCormack, Kate Dunne, Rachel Conroy. Subs: Rebecca Kelly for Kate Dunne (25 mins), Laura Nerney for Claire Dunne (46 mins).