WITHOUT Ross Munnelly, Kevin Meaney and the Conway brothers, a shoestring Arles-Kilcruise panel arrived at Pairc Ui Faoileann on Saturday night and as expected succumbed to league leaders Portlaoise who never had to leave first gear to dispose of the flagging Kilcruise men.
A point in either half was the sum total of Kilcruise’s efforts which speaks volumes about proceedings, and once Colm Parkinson collected a pinpoint Craig Rogers cross-field pass and buried his shot past Dermot Nolan in the third minute the writing was firmly plastered on the wall. Rogers had already pointed prior to that and by the time Kilcruise mustered a score eight minutes before the break Portlaoise had already added another two points to their tally.
Brian McCormack and a Craig Rogers free accounted for those and in truth Portlaoise could have been completely home and dry were it not for a spate of poor wides from their forwards that they would normally have converted easily.
Brendan Conway surged through the centre to collect a neat James McDonald hand-pass and pointed well but that was to be the one moment of decent football from the men in maroon and Portlaoise hit two more through Mark Kavanagh and Brian McCormack to open up a seven point lead at the interval.
Given the processional nature of the first half it was little surprise when Portlaoise made several changes for the second with Tommy Fitzgerald and Brian Mulligan earning a break and the injured Owen Whelan also being replaced for Conor Boyle, Kieran Lillis and Donal Fitzgibbons respectively.
Unfortunately for Kilcruise, those changes did little to stem the Portlaoise tide and despite a first minute free from Kilcruise’s stand-out performer Colm Munnelly, the home lead was slowly but surely increased as the second half wore on.
Colm Parkinson and Ian Fitzgerald combined well to feed Kieran Lillis who sent over a lovely score and Parkinson added another a few minutes later with a typically deft score. With the result in little doubt Portlaoise took their already relaxed feet even further off the throttle and although Kilcruise kept working hard they couldn’t find any way past the Portlaoise defence.
With no subs on the line and with the Kilcruise men tiring, Portlaoise were in total control and added two scores late on to round off the win. The dominance of Stuart Nerney in midfield was an integral part of the win and the young midfielder was involved in both of the late scores that saw Craig Rogers tap over an easy free and follow that up with an excellent last minute point. The win sees Portlaoise remain in control of Division 1 with three games remaining while Kilcruise’s recent malaise continued and they slipped even further off the pace.
Scorers: Portlaoise: Craig Rogers 0-5(2f), Colm Parkinson 1-1, Brian McCormack 0-2 (1f), Mark Kavanagh and Kieran Lillis 0-1 each
Arles-Kilcruise: Brendan Conway and Colm Munnelly (1f) 0-1 each.
PORTLAOISE: Mickey Nolan, David Browne, Eoin Bland, Chris Higgins, Brian Mulligan, Tommy Fitzgerald, Stephen Seale, Brian McCormack, Stuart Nerney, Owen Whelan, Craig Rogers, Brian Gaynor, Ian Fitzgerald, Colm Parkinson, Mark Kavanagh. Subs: Donal Fitzgibbons for Whelan (30mins), Kieran Lillis for Mulligan (30mins), Conor Boyle for T. Fitzgerald (30mins), Martin Staunton for Gaynor (52mins).
ARLES-KILCRUISE: Dermot Nolan, Anthony McElroy, Pat Conway, Sean Meaney, J.P. Conway, Colm Munnelly, Jason McLoughlin, James Conway, Stephen Miller, Mark Miller, Brendan Conway, Andrew Brennan, Paul O’Shea, Ken Kealy, James McDonald. No Subs Used.
Referee: Maurice Deegan