McGrath treble steers Port into quarter-finals

Nine points was the difference between Portarlington and Mountmellick last Friday evening in O’Moore Park, in round 3 of the senior championship. The deflation Portarlington might have felt after coming so close to beating Portlaoise, then suffering a heavy defeat in the replay, didn’t come across in their second half display as they blitzed Mountmellick after a very close first.

Nine points was the difference between Portarlington and Mountmellick last Friday evening in O’Moore Park, in round 3 of the senior championship. The deflation Portarlington might have felt after coming so close to beating Portlaoise, then suffering a heavy defeat in the replay, didn’t come across in their second half display as they blitzed Mountmellick after a very close first.

It was actually Mountmellick who took the early initiative, corner forward Niall Mullin got four scores inside twenty minutes to Portarlington’s one, which came by Adam Ryan. Three of those Mullin points came from silly frees conceded by the Portarlington backs.

All their early was nearly undone on 23 minutes when Jason Moore’s blasted shot went just over the bar, although it didn’t rattle the back of the net it did spark their comeback. Eoin Gleeson got the remainding two points of a slow second half, which drew Portarlington level. His first came from a free in the 25th minute and his second came in the 30th from another placed ball, a 45 which he expertly slotted over.

It was a poor half of football from Portarlington, as they struggled to forge opportunities up front. Daryl Foy had tried hard but was left horribly isolated thanks to the tactics they employed. The second half didn’t see a major upheaval of this tactic though, moreover midfielders joining the attack managed to get more of a foothold on proceedings after persisting with their counter attack play. They good have taken a three point lead into the second half; David Murphy found himself through on goal on 30 minutes after a wonderful cross-field ball from Kevin McGrath put him through, Donie O Mahoney made his first of two point blank saves though to deny him.

It was McGrath who got Portarlington’s opening point in the second half, with David Murphy turning provider to set up the chance. Niall Mullin responded for Mountmellick with a relatively simple free, before Portarlington went on an unanswered streak of 2-4 in fifteen minutes. Jonaton Fulham and Adam Ryan got the ball rolling by scoring the initial points of the run to give Portarlington the lead in the 37th minute. The introduction of Brian Clearly in the 42nd minute proved to be a turning point for Portarlington, with the forward full of running and industry.

Kevin McGrath caused great damage to Mountmellick’s chances in five short minutes when he was involved in all of Port’s 2-1 from play between the 45th and 50th. Jason Moore did well to turn his man and set up McGrath’s point in the 45th. A fairly innocuous long ball from Adam Ryan seemed to catch out those in the Mounmellick full back line. Kevin McGrath then took advantage of a stranded goalkeeper forced to come off his line with a smart fisted effort, as Portarlington started to increase their lead.

David Murphy started the move which lead to Portarlington’s second goal just four minutes later. Murphy managed to pick out Brian Cleary with a long pass, Cleary ran directly at the Mountmellick defence and as backs committed themselves, he offloaded to Kevin McGrath who easily tucked away the goal to put nine pints between the two sides.

That effectively ended the game as a contest despite their being 13 minutes left to play, but Mountmellick did make an effort to try and get back into the game. Darragh hanlon converted a free he won himself from just inside the 45 yard line, but Mountmellick switched their focus to trying to get goals for the remainder of the game.

An off the ball altercation saw Martin Forde receive a red card, referee Colm Kelly motioning that the Mountmellick captain possibly headbutted an opposition player, leaving him no other option. Despite being down to 14 men, the push to find goals continued, and Mountmellick were rewarded late on when Niall Mullin’s powerful right footed shot found the bottom left corner of the net, making it a slightly more respectable looking scoreline, but it was undone with the last kick of the game as Kevin McGrath grabbed his third goal of the game.

Another harmless looking high ball caught the Mountmellick full back line flat footed, and McGrath coolly tucked the ball into the bottom right corner with the outside of the boot.

SCORERS - Portarlington: Kevin McGrath 3-2, Eoin Gleeson 0-3 (one free), Adam Ryan 0-2, Jason Moore, Jonathon Fulham 0-1; Mountmellick: Niall Mullin 1-5 (0-4 frees), Darragh Hanlon 0-1

PORTARLINGTON: Gary Lanigan; Evin Lyons, Keith Bracken, Padraig O’Dwyer; Sean Michael Manley, Stuart Mulpeter, Heyden Weldon; David Murphy, Jason Moore; Cathal Ryan, Adam Ryan, Eoin Gleeson; Kevin McGrath, Daryl Foy, Jonathon Fulham. Subs Brian Cleary for Daryl Foy (42 mins)

MOUNTMELLICK: Donie O Mahoney; Richard McElwee, Martin Forde, Gearoid Hanrahan; Mark Dowling, Ben Forde, Darren Fitzpatrick; Eoin George, Shane Langan; Colm Coss, Shane Conlon, Mark Grennan; Niall Mullin, Brendan Reddin, Karl Donoher. Subs Bernard Rochford for Karl Donoher (51 mins), Eoghan Keogh for Shane Langan (52 mins), Emmet Healon for Mark Dowling (56 minutes.

Referee: Colm Kelly (St Joseph’s)