In the worst conditions imaginable Portlaoise CBS qualified for the South Leinster Colleges SFC final as they held out for a single point victory in a very low scoring semi final on their home pitch on Wednesday.
Played in a storm with the wind blowing straight down the pitch, and with persistent torrential rain for much of the game, it was always going to be a game of two halves but as it turned out that both teams played an awful lot better against the conditions.
It was the ability of Portlaoise to score against the wind that proved crucial as they shot three first half points and while Mountrath dominated against the wind in the second half, they failed to register a single score to add to their 0-4 first half tally.
Portlaoise played the better football against thewind and after 20 minutes led by 0-2 to 0-0. They should have been much farther ahead having missed two golden goal chances.
Mountrath eventually settled and dominated the final 10 minutes of the half and picked off four points, grabbing the lead in injury time.
The heavens now opened and while Portlaoise hit two points in the opening six minutes on the restart to take the lead, they were not to score again. However neither were Mountrath who pinned the CBS back in their own half but against a superb defence they were unable to get the score they so badly needed.
There were some anxious moments in and around the Portlaoise goal area but each time the ball was gathered or somehow scrambled to safety.
In the conditions great credit goes to both sides for the tremendous effort they put in and it was a pity that there had to be a loser on the day. Evin Keane opened the scoring after four minutes with a fine point from play but it was another 15 minutes before fine work from McEvoy and Nerney set up Peter Gavin for the games second point in between James Nerney and Darragh Nolan had goal opportunities that came up inches short.
Seconds later a Ben Conroy cross found Brian Fitzpatrick and he popped over Mountrath’s first score followed quickly by a magnificent Ray Ryan equaliser.
Conor Dunphy booted the CBS in front again but Brian Fitzpatrick added another super score to level and then after Ben Conroy screamed wide with a blistering goal shot James Mullaney gave the visitors the lead for the first time to leave it 0-4 to 0-3 at the break.
Darragh Nolan set up Dean Cullen for the equaliser on the restart and then the CBS were lucky to grab the lead when an Evin Keane shot was deflected over his own crossbar by a Mountrath defender.
It looked now as if the CBS would coast on to victory with the elements behind them but a gallant Mountrath side had other ideas but while they dominated for the remainder of the game outfield they failed to land a single score and Portlaoise held out for a place in the final today Wednesday against Bunclody in Carlow.
Portlaoise CBS: Chris Lynch; Robbie Dowling, Conor Dunne, Dean Lynch; Donal Fitzgibbon, Aidan McGovern, Darragh Nolan; James Nerney, Ciaran McEvoy; Peter Gavin, Dean Cullen, Donnacha O’Reilly; Danny Kelly, Conor Dunphy, Evin Keane.
Mountrath CS: Sean Maguire; John Lennon, Darragh Duggan, Liam Dunne; Dwayne Palmer, Eoghan Feane, Gearoid Lowry; Ray Ryan, James Moore; Ryan Mullaney, Ben Conroy, Danny Luttrell; Brian Fitzpatrick, James Mullaney, Aaron Moore. Subs: David Holland for Dunne (18 mins), Evan Cuddy for Holland (48 mins), James Tobin for Luttrell (48 mins).
Referee: Pat Moran Graiguecullen.